Queanbeyan is op shop heaven

A BRAND new wedding dress is among the treasures and untold stories that can be found at the many op shops in Queanbeyan.

With three thrift stores within walking distance - Salvos Store, Vinnies and The Bargain Hunter - Queanbeyan has long been the destination for local residents and those across the border in search of a bargain.

Karin Lee has managed the Queanbeyan Salvos Store for four and half years and she said people travelled from Canberra, Bungendore, Cooma, Braidwood and Bega to browse the racks.

"We have regulars, people who come in once a month, once a week, some come in three times a day," she said. 

 "We get a lot of students, even professionals and seniors."

Ms Lee said the large size of the shop, simple lay out and variety of items were some of reasons people enjoyed shopping at the Salvos Store.

"I get a lot of feedback about the quality, we have pretty high standards and so we should, we don't put rags out and we try to keep the racks full," she said.

The shop racks hold an average of 7000 pieces of clothing at any one time including brand new and second-hand baby, children, women and men's clothing, shoes and accessories. 

 There is also an assortment of furniture, toys, cleaning products and homewares for sale. The average price of clothing costs $5, so it's easy to see why the shop is a mecca for thrifty shoppers particularly those looking for a one-off fancy dress costume. 

"The footballers come down to find things for Mad Monday and we have groups come through looking for items dress-up parties. We recently had one group come through and they had to dress up but without clothing, one person bought a bean bag, another person a shell net with plastic fish.

"We see the same parties themes come through - the 60s and the 80s are popular. We had another group where everyone had to wear green a few weeks ago." 

Such is the popularity of the store, stock is constantly being un-bagged, price tagged and resold to new owners.

"[The donations] are really, really constant. We probably get more than 100 half-filled, garbage-bag-sized bags per day plus a dozen boxes of assorted other things," Ms Lee said.

"We've got volunteers, absolute angels who sort, price and put everything out on the shop floor."

Among the usual items, sometimes there are some rare gems like real fur coats, wedding dresses and crystal glassware.

"We have a wedding dress, brand new, never worn, we're selling it for $500," Ms Lee said. 

'The bride bought it but the wedding never happened. We often get wedding dresses sometimes the wedding didn't go ahead or the dresses come to us trashed and I think 'wow what a party they must have had'. 

A lot of things have interesting stories behind them. 

"There are often sad stories like elderly people who are downsizing and have really lovely things but they don't have the room to keep them. Just gorgeous items like English China that other family members don't want. We put a good price on those things and remind them the money is going to help other people, it's all about helping people."

-The Queanbeyan Salvos Store is looking for volunteers, for more information visit 203 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan.

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