Opportunity knocks

Cate Prestidge checked out Te Awamutu’s op shop scene – and came away with a bargain buy in the form of a Gorman cushion – and a great story.

SPCA store manager Kelly Smit checks items on the ‘pre-loved labels’ rack.

Te Awamutu is becoming a destination for bargain hunters now that the town boasts at least six opshops in the central business district.

The stores are a hive of activity after an influx of donations over summer.

Vanessa Hay and Fi O’Connor on deck at the Salvation Army Family Store.

Michell Bluett, assistant manager at Hato Hone St John on Alexandra Street, says residents are generous and she’s noticed an increase in donations and customers as the town grows.

She says “amazing volunteers” sort donated goods all year, but January is always busy as people shift house or have a summer declutter. Clothing is a popular item “all sorts of brands come in, some still with labels”.

At the Salvation Army Family Store off George St, manager Vanessa Hay says the team do a fantastic job getting new stock out daily. The team take pride in the look and feel of the store and enjoy their regulars and new customers. Hay has noticed more people “doing the op shop rounds” and says clothing and small furniture items are popular as well as collectibles like Crown Lynn and Temuka Pottery.

Over at Red Cross in Bank St, manager Debra Morrissey is singing along to disco music as she sorts through a bag of clothes.

“I’m always singing” she laughs. A sign at the front of the store says, ‘no clothing donations today’ but Morrissey says this is just so they can catch up on what they already have and the regular deliveries of boxes from their main storage facility.

“Clothing is always great to get” she says, and people are always popping in looking for things. Morrissey tries to ensure everyday necessities like kids clothing are affordable.

Racks of colourful clothing line one side of the SPCA store on Alexandra St. Manager Kelly Smit says they’ve had non-stop donations of high-quality clothing and homewares over the festive break, including household lots. She says with people shifting they have “a bit of everything from clothing to kitchenware and bric-a-brac – you name it, we get it”.

Smit says books are popular and their regulars often donate back after reading so she has a regular sales table to move stock on. While SPCA can take most things, there are items that can’t be sold if they can’t guarantee they’re safe and fit for purpose. This includes baby carriers with straps and buckles, flammable or medical items.

In the Hospice store on George St, Hospice regional retail manager Teresa Bidlake says the summer donation boost feels like back to normal again as during lockdowns people were decluttering more while they were based at home. Bidlake says they appreciate people donating their unwanted goods and while clothing is their staple, the store is “full of new treasures everyday which help us fund quality care for cancer patients”.

Hato Hone St John volunteers Lynne Levis (left) and Annette Shilton (right) with assistant manager Michell Bluett.

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