No longer the realm of vagabonds or pensioners trying to save a buck, op shopping is now decidedly hip.
There’s a certain satisfied buzz that comes with rummaging around secondhand stores and discovering pre-loved treasures at bargain prices – but finding the best local shops can be tricky.
In South Australia, mums Shelly Chapman and Rowena Trevaskis (pictured) have taken coach loads of thrift hunters on guided morning tours across Adelaide for the past four years, turning one person’s trash into their own treasure of a company.
What started as a one-off event for their children’s primary school in 2009 has grown into a thriving small business, You, Us and a Bus, facing cut-throat rivalry from interstate interlopers.
“Shelly was an avid op shopper. My mum was an avid op shopper. So I think together we realised that there was a bit of a passion there. We thought this would be a bit of fun,” Rowena, 43, said.
In the early days, the pair trawled Adelaide’s myriad of thrift shops one-by-one, hunting down well laid out and spacious stores that continually brought in new stock and, most importantly, had friendly staff at the helm.
Now the pair run nine different tours across the four corners of Adelaide and beyond, taking to the bus on the last Saturday of each month and running specially-organised private tours in between.
Despite having no advertising budget, Rowena said the bus was often full with a healthy mix of repeat customers and new faces – proof that word of mouth and a host of on-board discounts, keeps the business afloat.
She said Adelaide’s op shops, struggling a little in the current economic climate, also benefit from the tours, with many You, Us and a Bus passengers later returning at their own leisure to become regulars.
There are advantages for Shelly and Rowena, too, who often bag bargains for themselves, their families and friends during the tours.
“Because you’re always going over the stock you will find designer stuff,” Rowena said.
“Just recently I bought a Diesel jacket probably worth about $200 for $25 … so I’m very happy to wear my Diesel jacked down the farm, it’s only $25, it’s warm and if it gets ruined, oh well.”
And their hot tip for aspiring thrifters? Pick a bank of shops, visit them regularly and thoroughly go through the stock – you’re more likely to find genuine bargains that way.
For more information visit the website: www.youusandabus.com