In reply to a very reasonable request for more info from a Twitter follower heres our short synopsis on op shops.

  1. About 40 years ago there was a vibrant private family operated second hand clothing industry. Many of these operators were forced to close as Charities and their contractors solicited donations of clothing and developed volunteer run ,mainly church funded shopfronts which usually provided charitable services as well as selling items cheaply. The independent family second hand clothing vendors were by and large forced to close as they could not compete with charities on the unequal footing of business vs charity.
  2. About 25 years ago the independent second hand clothing store had all but disappeared , replaced by the “Op shop” usually operated by one of the many brands of Catholic Uniting and Anglican Churches. These op shops then expanded their range of goods, mostly eliminated their charitable activities and raised their prices. In many cases today it is cheaper to buy equivalent clothing new than from an op shop .  
  3. It has been made known to us that at least some of the Op shops today are private businesses which have bought the “franchise” rights to use the name of the relevant charity.The St Vincent de Pauls branded op shop in Mosman is one of the several examples known to us.
  4. The organisations which operate the op shops are now by and large part of large & very professional marginalisation industry service providers- providing the services they do according to government contracts for which they are paid by your tax dollars. The “services” they provide (if any) to marginalised people are minimalist, staffed by well meaning volunteers, often with the volunteers resourcing the service.
  5. In the Sydney City Council area we know of one, Hope St in Woolloomooloo which has our conditional support -in that it does provide low cost & charitable services to its considerable local constituency. Support is conditional because it is linked to a major church known for its other activities which use marginalised people as tokens to collect taxpayers dollars – while not solving the root issues causing marginalisation.
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