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The things you find

Look what I found for $4 at a local Op Shop!

It’s a golden cat handbag! I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

I know. I know. We are headed to London and the last thing we need is more stuff to cart across the globe.

But it’s a cute cat hand bag!! In gold!! It will be purr-fect for London, no?

The fact it might look a little odd on a short, plump, middle aged woman with a soon to be teenage son did briefly cross my mind. But it was only $4!! And it was a cute cat!! In gold! 

I was never one for ageing gracefully anyway. 

Besides, it was National Op Shop Week in Australia last week. I couldn’t walk away from an Op Shop without nabbing something I liked and contributing financially to the local community… all $4 of it!

These second hand stores, often run by charities, have some great finds for a reasonable price. We just need to take the time to hunt for them. 

National Op Shop Week provides the perfect opportunity to get out my comfortable walking shoes and go treasure hunting. The Week is an annual event that has been encouraging people for years to donate quality items, volunteer at an Op Shop or buy once loved items to help people as well as the environment.

There are often sales during this time at various stores. And any surplus income they make funds programs that assist the community.

Not only can you find a bargain, they also exist to help people who may be facing some financial challenges. Most connect people to services should they need them. While some stores have a food pantry program that allows people to come in and purchase a big bag of long-life food for $10.

I can’t help liking the fact that it’s more than a profit making business for many Op Shops. They’re into building a welcoming space for staff, volunteers and customers who shop with them as well.

The volunteer I chatted to at the shop last week began working there when it first opened four years ago. She came to Australia from South Korea 45 years ago. She said that there were hardly any Chinese people let alone Koreans in Sydney then.

She came to the store because she was quite lonely after her husband passed away and was looking for an opportunity to spend time with people.

The shop manager smiled and said he wouldn’t know what to do without her help. It was nice to hear.

I showed him my gold cat bag and told him that I will take it. I couldn’t help feeling a teeny bit like an Eco-warrior.

I hear that buying once loved items is a great way to reduce our environmental impact.  I read somewhere about 6 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year. And its environmental consequences can be extremely damaging. So we don’t need to be an activist to help save the planet. We can do our bit by grabbing that pair of jeans hanging on the rack of an Op Shop instead of buying a new one. That’s the theory anyway.

I briefly wonder about the environmental impact of manufacturing golden cat handbags before I hand my money over.

I loved the store I went to in Marrickville. It was packed with colourful clothes and quirky accessories. The gold cat bag was bundled with other handbags on a shelf. And I don’t regret for a moment buying it.

I can just imagine the look on my husband’s face now. But I don’t care. The bag will be a little souvenir from home. A reminder of sunny Sydney on those cold, dark, winter evenings in London.

And it felt good to do a little good by purchasing something that I liked.

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October 2019
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