One of Australia’s most eclectic op shops Wayside Chapel has just launched an online store - with preloved designer threads like Dolce and Gabbana, Manolo Blahnik, Aquazzura and Fendi up for grabs.
We usually know op shops as vibrant, bustling places, where hundreds of customers show up daily to find gold amongst the endless racks of low-priced, donated preloved wares.
But many op shops saw their revenue dry up when the pandemic brought huge swaths of the economy to a halt. At one point in April, 98% of Goodwills — the largest network of second hand stores in the US, with over 3,000 locations and tens of thousands of employees — had closed.
While some thrift stores are reopening in Australia, people are more comfortable shopping online. Australian ecommerce grew more than 80% year on year in the eight weeks after WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic. We really, really like to shop online.
For the many op shops that also operate charity programs or give part of their profits to social service initiatives, going out of business can hurt the wider community. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Wayside Chapel had to close its doors of its physical op shops but continued to provide assistance to an average of 226 people per day with 17,210 instances of support delivered to people experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental health issues and social isolation in the three-month period from April to June 2020.
The op shop saw an opportunity to pivot and created an online hub for high-end designer pieces - fusing fundraising with circular fashion.
What’s clear, for now, is that there’s no shortage of secondhand goods. As people emerge from weeks of home isolation, they’re donating mountains of old clothes purged during cabin-fever-induced spring cleaning which prevents unwanted garments ending up in landfill. Wayside Chapel is known for its affordable, high-end, preloved and sometimes brand new donated designer fashion for men, women and children making it an uber stylish choice while remaining sustainable.
Stylist, actor, model and sustainability advocate, Christian Wilkins has jumped on board to launch the online element of Wayside Chapel and swears by the huge collection online to nab that statement piece.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity now for fashion lovers all over Australia to be able to shop one of the most iconic and eclectic op shops in the country, knowing that every dollar they spend goes back to the charity’s important programs and services to support the community,” Wilkins told HuffPost Australia in a statement.
National Op Shop Week runs from September 28 to October 4. Other op shops that are online include:
Catharine Smith contributed to this report.