Oh for op-shops

Na­dia and fea­tures ed­i­tor Fiona Ralph hit the lo­cal sec­ond-hand shops and stock up on vin­tage good­ies for an idyl­lic back­yard picnic

Nadia - - CONTENTS -

Na­dia and fea­tures ed­i­tor Fiona Ralph scour sec­ond­hand stores to put on a pic­ture-per­fect picnic

It’s Tues­day morn­ing and the Dove Hos­pice Shop in Glen Innes, Auck­land, is buzzing. Na­dia and I are here on a mis­sion: to find a se­lec­tion of retro picnic ac­ces­sories for a fes­tive back­yard feast. We want to make an oc­ca­sion of it, so we’re on the hunt for pretty plates, a picnic bas­ket, nap­kins, glasses and more. Both Na­dia and I are keen op-shop­pers and are hop­ing to find a range of es­sen­tials we can use time and again. The Hos­pice Shop is enor­mous but well laid out, with sec­tions for cloth­ing, home­ware, fur­ni­ture and books. There’s so much to choose from, in­clud­ing a few lovely picnic bas­kets. We pick one that looks like it’s been hand-lined by a clever up­cy­cler. A num­ber of cute plates and dishes and a straw­berry-shaped bowl are added to our haul, as are a cou­ple of an­tique knives, and nap­kins with jaunty sum­mer prints.

We are eas­ily dis­tracted, and what be­gan as a home­ware hunt quickly ex­pands to include cloth­ing – we each find a dress and Na­dia grabs a cute flo­ral blouse. Why not get dressed up for our picnic? The money goes to­wards sup­port­ing peo­ple with life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses and their fam­i­lies and car­ers, so we feel good about our pur­chases.

We fill the car with our finds and head around the cor­ner to The Sal­va­tion Army Fam­ily Store. The Glen Innes store is rea­son­ably large and has im­pres­sive record and book collections, in­clud­ing some amus­ingly out­dated cook­ery books. A few gig­gles en­sue be­fore we set­tle on The New Zealand Din­ner Party Cook­book

and a cou­ple of vin­tage-style Party Time

LPS to jazz up the oc­ca­sion. We also pick up a glass jug for serv­ing re­fresh­ing bevvies in, and more cute crock­ery.

A bit of trivia for you: the term op-shop, short for ‘op­por­tu­nity shop’, is uniquely An­tipodean. Other coun­tries use terms such as thrift shop or char­ity shop. Whatever you call them, Glen

Innes has a good se­lec­tion, all stocked with do­nated goods and manned by

help­ful vol­un­teers and paid work­ers.

The SPCA Op-shop is our third port of call. Giv­ing to the an­i­mals is always fun and there’s a good se­lec­tion of home­ware and clothes here. More flo­ral plates and a wacky fish-shaped oven mitt (pic­tured above) are added to our stash as well as a cute-but-not-en­tirely-use­ful mini fry­ing pan, a pretty pink vase and an­other jug.

Our last stop is the Auck­land City Mis­sion New Be­gin­nings Shop. The money raised here goes to­wards health and so­cial ser­vices for marginalised Auck­lan­ders. The store is smaller than the oth­ers, but it’s always busy, es­pe­cially when new de­liv­er­ies ar­rive. We have a good chat to the staff, then grab one last plate, a nifty set of glasses, a glass mix­ing bowl and a spat­ula.

Back at my place, we give our pur­chases a quick wash be­fore Na­dia rus­tles up a batch of pikelets. The plan is to serve these with whipped cream and her de­li­cious Black Doris plum and chia spread (see page 130 for the pikelet and spread recipes), which we put in two cute op-shop dishes.

We pre­pare salmon, cream cheese and cu­cum­ber sam­mies (re­serv­ing the crusts to make cheesy sticks – see page 100) and fill the large jug with soda water, blue­ber­ries, cu­cum­ber and fresh mint from the garden. We add bowls of fresh cher­ries, peaches and more berries as the fin­ish­ing touches to our sum­mer feast.

Now it’s time to en­joy the fruits of our labour. We put down a vin­tage table­cloth as a picnic rug, some cush­ions and a few other op-shopped items I had on hand, then lay out the de­li­cious spread. It’s sat­is­fy­ing to see how much we man­aged to buy for around the cost of one plat­ter at a reg­u­lar store. What’s more, each of our sec­ond­hand plates, serv­ing dishes and glasses comes with a unique his­tory, and the money we paid for them has all gone to­wards worth­while causes.

“The best thing about op-shop­ping is the un­ex­pected finds. Some are hi­lar­i­ous (like our fish-shaped oven mitt) and some are price­less”

If you haven’t op-shopped be­fore, why not make a day of it like we did, and come up with a theme or an oc­ca­sion to shop for? Be­gin­ners may find the idea of op-shop­ping over­whelm­ing, but with many shops laid out neatly (or as neatly as sec­ond­hand goods can be) and most items af­ford­ably priced, it’s ac­tu­ally sur­pris­ingly easy – and so cheap!

The best thing about op-shop­ping is the un­ex­pected gems you dis­cover. Some are hi­lar­i­ous (like our fish-shaped oven mitt) and some price­less (rare ce­ram­ics and hard-to-find records). There’s also the feel­good fac­tor – as well as giv­ing money to char­ity, you’re giv­ing new life to items that may oth­er­wise have been tossed. Then there are the joy­ful in­ter­ac­tions, like the lady who stops to chat and in­sists on show­ing us pho­tos of all the op-shop pur­chases dis­played in her home, and the em­ploy­ees who are in­trigued to see what we’ve cho­sen.

As for any hasty buys we might re­gret, we can sim­ply con­tinue the cy­cle and gift them to the next op-shop. With none of our pur­chases cost­ing more than $15, it’s not much to worry about and any re­turns can just be viewed as an un­planned do­na­tion.

Fin­ders keep­ers Do­ing the rounds at the Dove Hos­pice Shop, The Sal­va­tion Army Fam­ily Store, the Auck­land City Mis­sion New Be­gin­nings Shop and the SPCA Op-shop, Na­dia and Fiona find plenty of good­ies for their picnic, and bag some new out­fits at the...


Af­ter­noon delights Pikelets with cream and jam, dainty salmon, cream cheese and cu­cum­ber sand­wiches and plenty of fruit make for a tasty back­yard picnic. It’s all served up on items bought from op-shops ear­lier in the day.

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