Christian Travelers Guide + Western Australia

Dog Days Are Over - RSPCA Society Store Bibra Lake Review

One op shop that is particularly close to my heart is the RSPCA's Society Store in Bibra Lake. There's probably three reasons for that (a) it's an oppie purely raising $$ for man's best friend (b) I know some wonderful people who work there and (b) oh yeah, it's where I used to volunteer each Friday!

I will try and leave the bias behind while I take you through this review, but as I'm quite fond of this one, you'll have to forgive me if I do get a little over-zealous. And in bringing you this review, I also have the chance to introduce you to two of the lovely ladies of whom I worked alongside, Kim and Linda.

Situated on Port Kembla Drive, this op shop is real easy to spot with heaps of signage viewable from the road. There's parking at the front of the store or you are able to park alongside any of the side streets. I took myself off there one day after work to catch up with the gals and although they were more than happy to chat about their involvement with the store, I may have brought donuts along with me, to sweeten the deal.

The one thing you'll notice as you step inside this particular op shop is how big it is. It's one big room full of everything an oppie offers. It's a bit warehouse like, with plenty of room for it to offer big piece furniture and a heap of clothes.

I had the pleasure of being based in the busy sorting area with Kim (or Kimbo as I like to call her), who has worked with the organisation as both a volunteer and paid staff member for over 9 years. When I asked Kim why she chose to work at the RSPCA op shops specifically, she states "I feel that animals don't often enough get recognised when it comes to support, and as they can't speak for themselves, it's important for us to do this for them plus, I love animals!". Kim also informs me that she is dedicated to the RSPCA due to a passion for raising funds for an organisation that "doesn't get funded by the government".

I ask Linda, who spends much of her day with customers in the store, the reasons for joining the RSPCA in which she explains coming across the job advertisement by chance "I was working with my husband's business and needed a change. I saw the RSPCA job one day in the paper, applied and got the job". And that was 8 years ago!

I ask the ladies why they thought customers should come to the store and Kim states honestly "we are compassionate, we are friendly and we care about what we do. We stop and take the time to chat with customers and we often get great feedback about our friendliness". I must admit, in the short term that I volunteered with these ladies, friendliness is definitely part of the charm.

Linda also shares a similar viewpoint to Kim in why this particular op shop is one to visit "Our prices are good and we have high standards in what we offer. We pride ourselves on being able to make our customers feel like they are getting a bargain, as the bottom line is about finding treasures. But of course it's also important to remember the cause behind the op shop itself". Kim adds to this "If people get bargains when shopping here, it makes us happy".

And there are treasures to be found at this place. While working in the sorting room, I was amazed at the generosity of some donations. Actually, I will share a quick story here; one day I spent the afternoon going through a donated deceased estate which contained boxes and boxes (and boxes) of treasures from all over the world, the former owners having been big travellers. Whilst I felt the sadness of going through someone's personal belongings, it also warmed me that the RSPCA was their charity of choice at the end of their lifetime.

I saw wonderful trinkets and treasures along with a series of framed photos depicting the couple from their heyday in the 30's up until some of their final retiring days. I lamented over taking the photos out of these frames when placing them on the shelves so left them intact... .and they were all bought, complete with their history. I kept one particular photo for myself too, just to keep the memory alive. And the trinkets and treasures collected on the journeys this couple shared also went quickly - which did what this couple's final wish was; to raise money for the RSPCA. Sheesh, someone pass the tissues!

On the topic of donations, we chat about the quality of donations that come through the RSPCA doors. We have all seen the good with the bad and Kim points out a very important point "the trouble with donations is that everyone's idea of what is "good" to donate is always different". Linda adds to this by stating "people feel like they are doing something good, which they are, but sometimes we just can't use what they have given us".

Certainly from my own experience working with these ladies, I got my first real insight into what people really do donate. And yep most of it was great, but unfortunately some of it was terrible. So terrible that I may have gagged every now and then. And whilst these sorts of donations definitely hit the bin, there were many that whilst weren't my taste exactly, were perfect to put out for sale. As Kim says "you've got to be open minded and put all things out, as people collect all sorts of different things. It's amazing what gets sold and we try and cater for everyone's tastes".

And one of the fast moving sections of the store is the pet stuff (of course!). Not only does this op shop stock brand new pet items (collars, pigs ears, litter trays, kennels) but the staff here also bundle up donations that, whilst may not quite make the cut for human's, could definitely be used for the four legged friend in our life. So, why don't we make this an op shop rule?

OP SHOP RULE NUMBER 32: MAN'S BEST FRIEND Hubby and I own a staffy. And like most pups, he likes his comfy bed and a great toy. And we get them from the op shop! There are so many blankets and pillows and doonas and sheets available at oppies, not to mention hundreds of chewable toys (obviously still checking the choking hazard potential), that it makes sense to hit the oppies when you're pooch needs some new things.

The RSPCA (and other op shops I've noticed) also sell old leads and beds and any old bowl can become Fido's new water dish. So instead of spending obscene amounts at the local pet warehouse, use your local oppie for the next pet purchase. And if you are donating items which you know aren't really going to be fit for human consumption but perhaps still have a little life left in them, bag them up and label them "for pets only" and pop them into a donation bin.

I ask Linda and Kim to share some of their tips when shopping in this oppie and Linda suggests something I realise I too have learnt in my own thrifting journeys; "Don't worry about what the item is, the biggest thing is to look for what you think is quality". It's true isn't it? Sometimes we start out buying things and worrying about what others will think and whether or not it's is fashionable or trendy. What we should be concentrating on is what the item means to us personally, regardless of all those other influences.

Of course the ladies also offer some more practical advice, reminding us to check for holes or any other forms of damage that you can see will affect your use of the item when you get it home. Linda states this is particularly good to bear in mind as "people are limited in time these days and don't always want to have to alter or fix things". In other words, heed some op shop rules and save yourself time and disappointment in the end! Kim also informs me that she knows of many customers that come to the store with a budget, to help them reign in their spending a little. That might work for a few of us eh?!

It's at this point that I decide to peruse the store with a different hat on, and view the oppie as a customer. As I mentioned it's big and it's full. Immediately as you walk in you'll see clothes, clothes clothes. And they're all in order and generally colour coded too - plus size, ladies, men's, babies, kids and a new section, for brand new and designer wear which you'll find to your left as you walk in. Everyday/casual wear is a big seller here, especially for girls & women although I believe the baby clothes are great quality too (and priced well at anything from 50c to $2).

I came across some great labels when sorting this stuff for the floor. The store also has sale days, which usually run for a week - and can happen any time. Kim and I have a little thang going on that when sales are happening she'll shoot me a text so I can let y'all know!

The bric-a-brac is divided up in the store; knick knack types of things (ie figurines, vases, photo frames) are all on the left hand wall as you walk in and the more home ware type of offerings are down in the far right corner which features crockery, cutlery, glassware etc.

Along the back wall and past the large front counter (complete with lovely ladies mentioned above!) you'll come to the change rooms and shoe section. The shoe section is only small, but reasonably priced - even more so on their sale days. Down this way you'll also find books, cd's, dvd's and kids toys at low prices. Opposite the counter is your pet section featuring both new (shampoo, roo sticks, collars) and second hand pieces (blankets) for purchase.

And dotted around the store is furniture - big, small and everything in between. I've seen couches, cupboards, dining suites (including antique!), cots, prams, beds, chairs, coffee tables. You name it and it's bound to be in store. But you must be quick, as it goes fast. Hey, I walked in one day to find my old couch ready for sale - which it did that day! Oh, it's a good thing to remember too that the RSPCA WA can pick up any large items (as long as they are sale-worthy) from your home and will also deliver your purchase to your home as long as it has a $50 minimum value, to make the trip worthwhile.

As I was leaving the store I actually got to meet the delivery guys Alan & Stuart, who were dropping off some deliveries from the head warehouse in Palmyra. Kim informs me that the truck being used is the ONLY truck the organisation has for all op shops in Perth and continues to run thanks to funds obtained through its oppies.

This store is a great all-rounder with a lot to offer, no matter what you are chasing. Whilst I may not be a vollie with them just for now, I know I will certainly be a regular customer. Besides which, the ladies are just as great value!

Tell me, have you thought about volunteering at an op shop?

K x

Come For: Clothes & Furniture and $1 sales
Try Another For: Electricals

RSPCA WA SOCIETY STORE
Cnr Port Pirie & Port Kembla Drive
Bibra Lake WA 6164

Open: Mon-Fri 9-4.30pm / Sat 9-1pm

www.rspcawa.asn.au


My Haul:
* Collector Lord Nelson Pottery cat plate $12
* Porcelain elephants $1 each

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Dog Days Are Over - RSPCA Society Store Bibra Lake Review + Western Australia