When opportunity knocks
WEEK TO CELEBRATE OUR CENTRES OF GIVING
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.