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Op shop Odyssey

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Bargain hunting and gathering once meant wading elbow-deep through the musty cast-offs of the Great Unwashed – which made the discovery of a $2 gem in amongst the slag heap all the more satisfying. But today, the cheap thrill of thrift shopping in Sydney has largely been removed by the emergence of more sanitised second-hand emporiums that pre-select the wheat from the chaff, code it by type and colour, and charge a premium for the service.
However, if you’re prepared to step outside the over-trod, over-priced inner-city Bermuda Triangle of Surry Hills–Darlinghurst–Paddington, you will find yourself in real op-shop hunting territory, where the digging is deep and the bounty is dirt cheap. Here are Time Out’s hottest tips..:

Enmore Rd & King St, Newtown
The main drag of Newtown’s King Street is bursting with second-hand stores, but just a stone’s throw from Newtown Station is Enmore Road – humble home to about five vintage and op-shop gems. The strip at the southern end of King Street (closer to St Peters station) also has some excellent vintage stores.
Exclusive Vintage Clothing 383 King St, Newtown 2042. (02 9517 2283) Mon–Wed 11am–5pm; Thu & Fri 11am–6pm; Sat 11am-–pm; Sun 12pm–5pm. A favourite with film costumers, this extraordinary collection of reasonably priced vintage clothing from the 30s to 70s, is purveyed and displayed by Jeanette Luke, a collector for 30 years, fab former go-go dancer and mother to well known Sydney burlesque stars Gypsy and Amelia Wood.
Scrags House of Fashion 551e King St, Newtown 2042. (02 9550 4654) Located on the King Street less traveled, Scraggs is good for accessories and clothing.

Tempe Tip, Bellevue St, St Peters 
Be prepared to battle it out with other style kids here. With the largest and possibly oldest Salvos store in NSW, the Tempe Tip secret is a very badly kept one. Not to be mistaken with the rubbish dump.
Tempe Tip 7 Bellevue St, St Peters 2044. (02 9519 1513) Mon–Fri 8.30am-4pm;Sat 8.30am-2.45pm. One of best op-shop hunting grounds in Sydney where you can pick up $4 mens’ brogue shoes, a $35 push-bike and almost anything else.

High St & Station St, Penrith
Make it a car trip unless you live out west; public transport could mean an all-day adventure. Penrith has a small group of op-shops that are good for finding accessories. Don’t let the dust deter you; some of these beauties have been sitting on the shelves for months. Put it down to timing and luck, and you may find Crown Street-esque boots that cost $20, four times less than what you’d pay in Surry Hills.
The Salvos Store 479 High St, Penrith 2750. (02 4721 7321) Mon–Fri 9am–4.20pm; Sat 9am–1.45pm. Come here for oddities, collectables and bric-a-brac to decorate your house.
Lifeline Western Sydney 109 Henry St, Penrith 2750. (02 4721 7603) Mon–Fri 9am–5pm; Sat 9.30am–5.30pm. Great for books and records.

Marrickville Rd, MarrickvilleA good first point of call because of its proximity to the city. Great for fabrics and linens. Don’t bank on finding much that will blow your mind clothing-wise here because if you do, you won’t. That’s the first rule of op shopping: be prepared to work for your bounty. Marrickville Road has four op-shops within walking distance of each other, including the Salvos (No.207) and St Vincent de Paul (No.113).
The Bower Bldg 34, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville 2204. (02 9568 6280) Mon–Sat 10am–5pm; Sun 10am–2pm. There are no clothes but this is a re-use and repair treasure trove for furniture, books, stereos, lamps and other bric-a-brac.

Princes Highway, RockdaleA reward for those who are prepared to travel, Rockdale is the place to go if you are after clothing, accessories and modern bric-a-brac interior oddities.
Look Is Back Shop 1a, 452 Princes Hwy, Rockdale 2216. (02 9567 9315) Mon–Fri 9.30am–5pm; Sat 9.30am–3pm. New and recycled designer clothes can be unearthed here.
The Smith Family Store 4a/452 Princes Highway, Rockdale 2216. (02 9567 5615) Mon–Fri 9am–4.45pm; Sat 9am–1.45pm. Come here for furniture and decorative oddities.
Smart St & The Crescent, Fairfield Think Rockdale and Marrickville combined, with a touch of Penrith. The beauty of Fairfield is that you’re only one stop from the mecca of amazing food that is Cabramatta. It could be one of the cheapest - and most rewarding - outings you’ve had in years.
Anglicare Op Shop 22a Smart St, Fairfield 2165. (02 9726 1516) Mon–Fri 9am– 4.45pm; Sat 9am–2.45pm. A great spot for some second-hand pieces, shoes and books.
The Smith Family Store 97 The Crescent, Fairfield 2165. (02 9727 7251) Mon–Fri 9am–4.45pm; Sat 10am–12.45pm. A Smith Family store with a penchant for obtaining some brilliant denim and leather pieces. The manchester is good too, so pick up some 70s patterned towels for your next trip to the pool.

Watch out forThe Way We Wear Vintage Fashion and Textile Fair Vintage clothing dealers are coming to town and will be unraveling their wares from the 18th century through to the 70s. These clothing merchants will be selling designer clothing, peasants’ frocks, royal garb, coats, hats, parasols, gloves and jewelry. Vintage lovers will also be able to catch a glimpse of the gowns worn by 19th century style icon, Queen Alexandra of Denmark.

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