Two of the best right here in Mansfield
SHARKS heads, vibrators, shelled prawns and prosthetic limbs – these are all things that have been handed in to op shops across the state.
It’s National Op Shop Week later this month, and for a small community Mansfield is lucky to boast not one but two shining examples of what can be achieved with dedicated volunteers.
The Mansfield St Vincent’s Op Shop has successfully run a commercial operation for a number of years, offering household items alongside an extensive range of clothing.
However, coordinator Lyn Stevens said it was not the merchandise but the camaraderie that made St Vinnies a great place to work.
“It’s great, we have a bit of fun,” she said.
“It also gives something back to the community.”
Ms Stevens said op shops were an important part of a small community, helping families that might otherwise have been destitute.
“We can help give people the things they mightn’t be able to afford otherwise,” she said.
Although the bulk of their donations are clothing and household items, Ms Stevens said some interesting pieces had crossed their floors.
“I can’t tell you some of the things we have had donated – you couldn’t put it in the paper,” she laughed, proving the fun atmosphere of her workplace.
Across the road at the Uniting Church Op Shop and it’s a similar story.
Bev Armstrong has been volunteering since the store first opened, and gladly donates her time one day a week.
“I like doing it – I like to get out of the house and meet people,” Bev said.
Dealing mostly in clothing and smaller items, Bev said she had seen the fashions come and go, but had noticed now how young some of her clientele were.
“It’s really fashionable now, to come into an op shop and find something to wear.”
However, as part of National Op Shop Week people are being implored that they are a retail store, not a rubbish depot.
A titanium prosthetic limb, a full box of used dentures, a bag of human ashes, bald car tyres, empty paint tins and even a dead shark have all been donated to Australian charity op shops in recent years.
In 2012 more than two billion donated items were sorted at Australian charity op shops - while strange but useful items are able to be sold to raise funds, an increasing proportion of donations are rubbish.
The founder of National Op Shop Week, Jon Dee, says that the op shop charities are spending millions of dollars a year to dispose of unsellable items.
“The Salvos alone spend up to $6 million a year on disposal costs and landfill fees - that money could be going towards welfare programs that help people back k into the workforce, or assist t people after natural disasters,” Mr Dee said.
“The majority of donations are fantastic, and help to fund vital community services.
“But if you give them something that’s unsellable, then the charity op shop has to pay to dispose of that item.”
The rule of thumb is to not t donate anything you wouldn’t t be happy to give to a friend.
Broken appliances and crockery, single shoes, socks or gloves and stained or torn clothing should not be donated.