What the St Nicholas Op Shop means to me

As a child we didn’t have Op shops where we lived, so on holidays to Melbourne one highlight was to visit the local ‘Opportunity Shop’ where our hard earned spending money went so much further! For years I had my felt doll ‘Ipana’, named after her beautifully stitched teeth, and my sister had ‘Dollar Wednesday’- no explanation needed! I didn’t realise then, but I have now realised what a blessing these shops are to the community.

A few years ago I felt it was my season to be able to do some work for the church and our community. Monday is my day off from teaching so with the understanding of the Op shop staff I was put on sorting fortnightly.  As possibly the youngest staff member, this definitely brought some challenges. For example I’m aware of some different brands to our other helpers, so when I see a pair of Mossimo jeans (which usually retail for over $200 a pair) I think “Awesome, put these on the rack” not “Those jeans have a tear, bin them”

We are so fortunate and blessed that our community are so giving. There is always so much to be sorted, and as a result our shop is only stocked with quality goods.

Due to the excess items we are able to help even further than our immediate area with Seafarers Mission, Women’s Refuge, the Prison and to the needy overseas.

A personal bonus of working at the Op shop is that it has given me the chance to find things for my classrooms and to wear myself!! I have found that this has actually had a positive reaction at school. I’m never embarrassed to say where my clothes come from, and as a result, my students now know if they comment on my outfit, the response more often or not is “from my favourite shop”, to which they respond with “Oh, the Australind Op shop”. I believe this has actually helped take the stigma away for some families who don’t have a choice but to buy preloved clothes as my students have gone home and asked their parents to take them to our Op shop to have a look!!

The Op shop is not just a place to buy a bargain.

It can be a place where people come feeling a bit low, find someone prepared to listen to them, and leave feeling better.

I love volunteering in the shop and chatting with customers.  I love helping them to locate what they are hoping to find. I strongly urge anyone to volunteer their time to the Op shop (especially some younger people) as it is very rewarding.

Shani Kaitani

What does it mean to you?