Christian Travelers Guide + workwear

Happy Together: Salvos Bibra Lake Op Shop Review

Ah, what better way to start the new year than with a review on a brand new op shop? Surely that’s a great way to start one’s thrifty 2013? Yes, I thought so.

A little while ago I had heard a rumour that the Salvos were picking up their Spearwood store and relocating with a brand new one in Bibra Lake. And you can imagine, no doubt, the happy dance one did when one heard this on the grapevine... given one’s close proximity to Bibra Lake itself!

And so I was extra pleased when a Salvos press release hit my inbox, officially announcing the opening of the Bibra Lake op shop. Along with that I was able to not only arrange an official review but also the chance to interview the store’s manager, Janet.

Located on Port Kembla Drive (think Adventure World way people!), I had absolutely no problems in finding the store, as the Salvos have done a fabulous job in making this one stand out with signage that will no doubt lure many a thrifter in.

The first thing that hits you is the spaciousness – it’s bright, airy and inviting – with loads of stuff in each section. Obviously I got a chance to sticky beak around and, ahem, spend up,but I’ll get to that later as I think this is a great time to meet Janet.

Having worked many years in retail, Janet joined the Salvos a little over four years ago and made the move from the recently closed Spearwood store to Bibra Lake as store manager. I was super impressed with the passion she has not only for the new store but for the reasons why the op shop, the Salvos, exist. So I asked her where that passion comes from “to me it’s not just a job, it’s about helping people. It’s a job that is meaningful and worthwhile.”

That resonated for me because I too can see it from the other side having my own oppie employment experience. Op shops are only a part of a bigger picture as far as each charity is concerned, as Janet says “it’s about community”. We also had a great chat about the importance of educating the next generation of shoppers as to why op shopping is the way to go – for the community, for the environment etc etc. And certainly I noticed many of the customers who came through the doors were young females.

As Janet walked me around the store, I was taken by how well she knew every part of the store, every nuance. So I had to ask her what makes this op shop stand out, what is its point of difference?

“It’s bigger, it’s better and there’s room to grow. We’ve got a lot of different stock coming through - I’m amazed at some of the things we get to put out on the floor! We’ve got a great range throughout, along with collector’s items. Another point of difference is our selection of men’s work clothes, which works well in this area (this part of Bibra Lake is LIA). And of course we still have all the regular Salvos sales – Monday Madness, pensioner discounts on Tuesdays, student discounts on Wednesdays and the half-price ticket of the day.”

I took the chance to ask her what she would recommend customers come to the Bibra Lake store for “designer labels, homewares (especially good china and glassware) and gifts. But in general, the store is an all-rounder. At the moment we have a small selection of furniture, but we are going to be building on that too”.

And I agree, the store is an all-rounder. Immediately as you walk in, you’ll come face to face with racks and racks (and racks!) of clothes. And I have to say, after getting an opportunity to fossick, Janet’s recommendation on designer label hunting here is spot on. This was one of the big things I was impressed with at this oppie, along with the prices.

I think op shoppers alike understand that designer pieces are usually a little higher than their k-mart counterparts but hey; we also know oppies have to make money for the other services they provide to the greater community. And, as shoppers, we also have the choice to take it or leave it. However I have to say the designer labels in this store are attainable. I mean brand new Gabriella Frattini for $10? Brand new Shila for $5? Maison Scotch for $10? And these are corporate donations so there’s a big selection of them. But as Janet noted, there are some “quirky” one off labels here too.

The shoe section is a gal’s dream. You’ll find a good mix of vintage/retro numbers along with the more modern brands. And conveniently located right next door is the accessory area…so you really have no excuse not to do a little mix and matching!

I asked Janet what the feedback has been like; “so far it’s that our stock is great quality and that the store already has a welcoming feel. I’ve also had many of my Spearwood customers come over to become regulars here along with welcoming brand new customers too. The opening day was huge with over 200 people visiting throughout the day. We sold some really big pieces too”. Case in point, towards the end of my visit a customer came in to pick up her huge collectable Princess Di china plate thrift – and Janet chats with her like old friends. It’s wonderful.

Op Shop Rule 28: Out With the Old and In With The New
Given the timing, we all know that now is good a time as any to clear out the cupboards to make way for the new stuff acquired over the holiday period. But our “old” can always be appreciated as someone else’s “new” stuff. I think it’s a great time to reflect on the things we have collected, boxed up and not worn in the past year and to decide if we really, really need them anymore.

Obviously I am a huge advocate for donating at any time of the year, but I figure if someone only does it once a year, then this is the time to do it. We all like to start the new year positively and if by donating stuff can help others start the new year positively too, then why not!. There are too many people starting off the new year with very little these days.

So where are the donations coming from?

“We get our donations from all over, including from corporates. The donations we are getting from the general public are really great quality too.”

At this point my eyes are drawn to the ornate display cabinet featured in the middle of the room displaying some beautiful collector’s items including a ye olde marble bust and, hang on, is that an original QEII coronation memorial cup? Um, Janet, can I put my name on that one please?!

Whilst Janet points out a few other collectable pieces I ask her about one of the best donations she’s ever come across. “The one that springs to mind was a full (Albert) Meakin china dinner set. We had it valued and it was worth over $1000 dollars”. Probably lucky for my bank balance that it wasn’t there that day haha.

I ask Janet if I can take a few photos and of course she is obliging…and suggests using one of the GORGEOUS wedding dresses the store currently has for sale. One of my personal recommendations is for upcoming brides – ladies, get yourself down to this oppie. There were 10 or so dresses there and they were all beautiful, well cared for and at bargain prices (ie $200).

Of course I have to ask the big question – does Janet op shop for herself? Laughing, Janet says “my house has been furnished by the Salvos!”.

At this point Janet lets me investigate the store solo. I certainly don’t leave the store solo either. I think I pick up something from just about every section of the store (well, almost). There is a good selection of babies, kids & teens clothes and I came away with some hardly worn Kustom sneakers for my niece at a bargain price. There’s a nice, neat selection of games for kids and kids-at-heart too.

I had a suss out of the men’s section and was pretty impressed with the offerings. I did pick up a couple of golf shirts for hubby but as I never seem to have much luck in getting him anything he likes, I decided to leave them this time round. But the clothes here (and in every other section for that matter) are all really well selected and neatly presented.

The bric-a-brac section is good to rifle through for general household type stuff. Just remember if you are looking for collectables, they are likely to be in the display cabinet or behind the counter. But here you can get your generic stuff to stock the kitchen and pantry up with.

When I asked Janet what message she would like to pass on to the public she asked to convey a couple of things. First of all a big thank you to all for supporting the new store as well as the big op shopping ethos “if it’s too good to throw away, then please donate it”. Oh, and donations are always accepted – during store hours!

So what’s my opinion on this one? I’m sure you can guess I think it’s pretty darn fab. There really is a whole myriad of reasons as to why keen op shoppers should pay this oppie a visit. I think what makes this a lovely visit too, is the staff. Not only did I get to chat with Janet, but I also got to meet the vollies as well, who were just as welcoming and accommodating. Oh, and good news guys, Janet is always after vollies for the store. So if you are keen, just pop on down and chat with her.

And do you know how else I knew it was a lovely store? I got a big cuddle at the end!


Come For: Anything from A-Z
Try Again Soon: Furniture

Bibra Lake Salvos
28 Port Kembla Drive
Bibra Lake WA

Open: Mon-Fri 9-5.30pm / Sat 9-5pm

My Haul * 1954 Souvenir Coronation Mug $24.95 * Kustom Sneakers $3.99 * Country Road silk blouse $4.99 * Cooper St tee $3.99 * Katies tee $3.99 * Vintage blouse (1/2 price orange tag) $1.99 * Suzanne Grae blouse $3.99 * Forever New blouse $3.99 *Brand new nursery rhyme book 99c * Needlepoint pillow $2.99

Bibra Lake, bridal, charity, clothes, collectables, designer, HAPPY, kelly wayne, op shop, op shopping, op shops, perth, salvos, shoes, thrift, thrifting, wedding, Western Australia, and more:

Happy Together: Salvos Bibra Lake Op Shop Review + workwear