At the front or back entrance to a thrift shop are huge containers that look like trash bins. On the door to the bins is a sign marking them as donation boxes. People put their unwanted clothing, shoes, and miscellaneous household items inside to donate them. The donated items are then sold at a deep discount, with the proceeds used to fund the operations and services provided by the organization. I always take my old clothes, shoes, cookware, and so on to a thrift shop—I never throw it away. The actual prices are around two or three dollars for a T-shirt, for example, and a dollar or less for a plate. You can even by things like used mattresses for 50–80 dollars. Many of the employees are seniors, and some are working as volunteers. The shops keep short hours—9 AM to just 3 or 4 PM on weekdays—which makes it hard for people with nine-to-five office schedules to make it in. The bigger shops will open on Saturdays, though, or stay open until 5 PM.
I like poking around the thrift shops. Every once in a while, you’ll get a lucky find—like rare antique tableware or picture frames. Not to mention that you’ll only pay a dollar or two for it, making the whole experience as exciting as a treasure hunt. Australia doesn’t have the kinds of trendy used clothing shops you find in Japan, so if you want to buy used clothing here, you have to head to the thrift shops. Some people turn their nose up at them because they think they’re only for the elderly or people of low socioeconomic status, but more recently you find a lot of fashion-forward young people putting together chic outfits with used clothes or painting and repairing used furniture themselves. If you’re into those trends, thrift shops are the perfect place to find what you need. It’s also fun because you can see items that you’d never find in a Japanese used goods shop. If you’re ever in Australia, make sure to take a peek inside!
(right): The shops also sell new cleaning products more cheaply than you could buy them at a supermarket