How can a declutterer love op shops?

Women's Wool Hat with Felt Bow - PinkI write a column in our local (tiny) paper all about decluttering. And when my friends heard there was going to be an Opportunity Shop set up in our town over the June long weekend, they began to tease me.

"You can't go in there," they said. "What if someone takes a photograph of you and publishes it next to your column? You’ll have no integrity left."

For a very short minute I thought that perhaps I should have kept my decluttering thoughts very firmly to myself. But then I realised that this is a good opportunity to talk in my column about op shops and how much I love them.

Yes, I do love them. I love the fact that I can go in and buy anything I like for under five dollars and walk out and enjoy the buzz of the purchase and the thrill of bargain, but know that I haven't wasted my money.

There is also no buyer’s regret. If I don't like the item when I get home, I can simply recycle it back to another op shop. I will have gained experience and at the same time made a small donation to charity.

Because things are so cheap, and because I feel that I'm doing something good for the environment and for charity by purchasing second-hand, I actually feel freedom in an op shop to take or leave something. I know that I could have it if I wanted it and therefore I am free to say yes or no as I choose that day. Emotionally, it seems to be a lot harder to let something go if I have paid good money for it or if I need to save up for it.

The good old triple R mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle – comes into play in a big way in an op shop. I love that someone else's trash is my treasure and I love that when I decide I no longer want something, there may be someone out there who will take it and love it and give it a home.

Of course, the fourth R for the de-clutterer is Refuse. I am learning, slowly, to do this and I can walk through an op shop now and purchase only the specific items that I really like, want or need.

So congratulations to the people behind the long weekend op shop, which was well-stocked with interesting, quality items. I understand they raised a lot of money for children with disabilities.

And, as I'm sure you will want to know what I bought, I will divulge my purchases. They were: one toy for the six-year-old (20c); one book for the eight-year-old by his favourite author ($1); a pair of groovy looking Converse sneakers for the nearly teenager ($2); nothing for the toddler (she didn't realise she could buy something); and a very glamorous looking pink hat for myself to help along my this-winter hat fetish ($5).

We’re all winners at op shops.