Who doesn’t love a cheeky bargain? As part of National Op Shop Week, which runs from August 24-31, we share our tips on nabbing the best deal and finding the best items at your local op shop.

Want to look fabulous on a shoestring? Then op shops are your best bet. But it isn’t always easy to find what you’re looking for or be certain that what you’re buying is actually a bargain. Here are our best tips for finding the hidden gems every time.

Have high expectations, but be patient 

There are always fabulous things to be found in every op shop but if you’re after something specific, be prepared to be patient as this isn’t retail. There isn’t more stock out the back and there aren’t different sizes available. Keep an open mind about what you’re looking for and you’ll never be disappointed.

Pick your place

Not all op shops are created equal so be discerning with your choices. Depending on the area, the stock will vary and some stores will receive better quality donations than others. If you are looking for designers items, head to op shops in the more affluent areas. Do some research about the stores you intend to visit to find out their stock drop off days as this is when you’ll have the most choice and newest items.

Looks can be deceiving

Not all that glitters is gold — and not everything that looks old and rumpled is worthless. Look past superficial issues like dust, creases and sizing. All of these can be removed or altered easily and can mask an items true value. See the potential rather than its reality.

Always, always, always try it on

The way a piece of clothing looks on the hanger or shelf is not accurate. Try it on and if you’re not willing to alter the size or fit, only buy items that suit you in the store.

Scan, search and sift

There is so much stock in op shops that unless you get good at scanning to pick out potential winners, you’ll get tired and bored before you find anything good. Feel fabrics for quality like silk or wool, look out for prints and colours you like and avoid bottom half options like pants and skirts if you are in a hurry as these take time to try on.

Accessorise

Some of the coolest items are found in the jewellery sections, behind the counter or on display so keep an eye out for these. Plus you can often find designer and high quality things like scarves and hats in the nick nack section.

Cash vs card

Not all op shops will have card facilities so either check beforehand or take enough cash with you so you don’t have to leave and come back.

Don’t buy unless you love

Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you should buy it. Assess whether it is a worthwhile addition to your wardrobe and life and if you’re unsure, leave it behind.

Good luck, have fun, and send us pictures of your best purchases! For more information on National Op Shop Week, click here.