When something old is new again



I HAVE always been a sucker for a good op shop. From old, baggy trousers to naff taffeta frocks, they have it all.

Despite all my time in op shops, I'd never thought about how all the clothes get from the stuffed garbage bags to the shelves. But this week I found out as I spent a day at the Grafton Salvation Army store.

When I arrive I go out the back and despite the bags and bags of clothes, store manager Judy Salter says they are scraping for clothes and donations at the moment. From the precarious tower of goods in one corner and pile of massive bags in the other, I would have doubted it ... but apparently the tower is of broken electrical goods and the like, while the bags each hold 10 kilograms of rags.

A few customers wander in and out as Judy explains about the process behind sorting and pricing stuff for sale. Then in comes Peter, a 'regular'.

It turns out he collects old books, and seems pretty happy to find an Enid Blyton novel ? complete with dustcover ? for sale. Judy tells me there are a few regulars; one even collects porcelain shoes.

At 10am Todd and Tim turn up with the collection van. As we unload the gear, an office chair flies off the trailer and I can't help but think 'it fell off the back of a truck'. Haha.

I go on a collection round and Austin, a guard dog in Arthur Street, doesn't seem to mind us taking off with two cupboards. Vicious.

When we get back I sort through bags of clothes and other random things. All the clothes go in different sections and every time I go to hang up a pair of shorts or trousers I have a brief, yet eventful, battle with the jumble of tangled clip coathangers. Tim says they've tried everything to keep them separate but haven't worked out a solution.

While sorting through stuff is eventful, I'm not sure I could do this all day ? I have enough trouble putting my own clothes on coathangers. Still, may the crew at the Salvos continue to sort and hang so shoppers such as myself can continue to buy old pants and taffeta frocks.

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