I can be the worst when it comes to impulse buying, especially if a local op shop is having a fill-a-bag-for-$5 day. On these days, I find myself guilty not only of buying things I don’t really need, but of buying things I don’t even want. After all, it’s hardly value for money if I leave the bag half-empty!
But I have learnt restraint when it comes to waiting until something I want appears in an op shop before buying it. There were a few false starts. After years of wearing silver I decided, one day, that it was time to make the switch to gold. Suddenly, I was desperate for a pair of gold sleepers. For months I checked out the jewellery cabinets of op shops and pawn shops, to no avail. So I gave up and bought a new pair from a regular jewellery store. Wouldn’t you know it? I then saw gold sleepers in three different op shops over the next few weeks.
By the time I decided I wanted a nice fire tool set, I had the waiting game down pat. The only heating in our new house was a wood burner, and I made do with kitchen tongs for over two years. There were plenty of unattractive contemporary fire tool sets in op shops, and plenty of beautiful but very expensive ones in antique stores. I held out, and held out, and held out. Finally, I found the perfect brass set for $15 in a Salvos store. It was bliss.
If my daughters want something, they ask for it and I tell them I’ll buy it for them if and when I find it in an op shop. They waited six months for roller skates, a year for a paisley-print dress (I have one, you see) and nigh on two years for a video of the third Swan Princess movie. What goes around comes around, so the girls generally get what they want in the end, but they have to wait indefinitely.
One of the unexpected fringe benefits of all this is that whenever my mother-in-law gives the girls back to me after a sleepover she says, “Your girls are so good. At the shops they never ask for anything.” This is not to say that the girls can’t be bad-mannered, self-centred and unkind. But they’re not particularly image-conscious and they’re not particularly materialistic. So far.
Amy Choi grew up in the family business (a Chinese take-away) and is a three-time university dropout. She was once a finalist in the Vogue Talent Contest and flew all the way to London for lunch at Vogue House. She has worked in customer service, as an usher, foster carer, freelance writer and columnist, most recently for The Age. Her first book will be published next year. She's still dating her first boyfriend and they live in country Victoria with their two daughters. Keep track of Amy's op-shopping adventures at her Revival blog... or at GWAS each fortnight.
Posted by Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) at Thursday, March 10, 2011