When op­por­tu­nity knocks


Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Re­becca Dargie

ONE man’s trash is in­deed another man’s trea­sure. But few would cher­ish some of the items given to op shops whose work does so much to im­prove the lives of those in need.

From boats, cars and grand pi­anos to prawn heads and dirty nap­pies, do­na­tions to op shops vary from the benev­o­lent to the deeply thought­less.

Na­tional Op Shop Week starts on Mon­day, pro­mot­ing the in­te­gral role of this vi­tal in­sti­tu­tion and cel­e­brat­ing the work­ers, vol­un­teers, donors and cus­tomers who make it pos­si­ble.

Among them is Jene Ton­gol who has worked at the Tempe Salvos store for eight years af­ter she started at the Mar­rickville branch as a vol­un­teer while look­ing for a di­ver­sion from the tedium of stay­ing at home and a chance to make friends.

Ms Ton­gol de­scribed op shop ser­vice as “re­ally fun” with no two days the same.

“I’ve seen such things brought in here that I’ve clear-out of qual­ity stuff you don’t use any more.”

Jeff McCart­ney, the Salvos area man­ager for eastern Syd­ney, said mod­ern op shops were dif­fer­ent from those that started in Aus­tralia in the 1880s, though their func­tion re­mained the same.

Pro­cesses had been stream­lined and the pro­file of cus­tomers had changed from those just seek­ing a cheap warm coat to those shop­ping for fun.

As much work takes place be­hind the shop floor as on it. Each week staff sort through tonnes of do­na­tions brought in di­rectly or by the Salvos’ fleet of trucks. Saleable items are put on the shop floor where they have a five-week shelf life.

Any­thing un­sold is ei­ther dis­trib­uted abroad or pulped and re­cy­cled into light­weight doonas for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

“We have cus­tomers from all walks of life now, look­ing for the unique or the quirky. They come in with pa­tience and time and walk away with any­thing from a lovely dress to a stuffed crocodile.”

Jene Ton­gol with a se­lec­tion of wares from the Salvos Tempe store.

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