Published: 23rd Mar 2009

As a teenager, I worked in an Oxfam shop for one afternoon a week, selling Barbara Taylor Bradford books and Val Doonican records to pensioners. We’d get the occasional person under the age of 30 in the shop, but it was usually some kid forced to come in as a dare by their mates. Now some charity shops in the UK have gone upmarket and become second hand book dealers or vintage record stores. You can also find specialist stores supplying electrical goods and furniture. And, for a while, retro chic made it cool to shop in charity shops. But despite this surge in popularity, the status of Britain’s charity shops pales into insignificance compared with Australia’s ‘op shops’, as they are called down under. They are a mainstay of most suburban high streets in Australia. In the Melbourne suburb where I live, there are at least five such establishments … (To read the full article, subscribe below)