≡ Menu

Sharing is caring!

The Complete Guide to Blue Mountains Op Shops!

Who doesn’t like a bargain?

Call them what you like – Charity Shops, Thrift Shops, Op Shops or Opportunity Shops, they all provide a great service in the Blue Mountains and there are plenty to be visited.

I grew up calling them Op Shops, as do most Australians and New Zealanders, so that’s what we call them in this article.

In this Comprehensive Guide we list all the active Blue Mountain Op Shops, what we think are the Top 5 Op Shops in the Blue Mountains and I’ll point out a few smaller Op Shops that you may not know about!

We also provide an updated listing of where every Charity Bin is in the Blue Mountains so you can give your own donations.

I have also included a few thoughts on Op Shops, including our thoughts on –  Some Successful Op Shopping Strategies, Outrageous Pricing, the Good Old Days, the History of Op Shops in Australia and more.

Whether you shop at Op Shops because you like to or you have to, we hope you will find this guide of great use.

(Blue Mountains Op Shop Directory is at the end of this article. )

Blue Mountains Op Shops

I’ve found some wonderful things in Op Shops over the years. A painting by a very well respected modernist painter that’s probably worth at least a 100 times what we paid for it, a couple of pieces of excellent Clarice Cliff china that paid for my move to Australia many years ago and plenty of clothes that still get lots of use.

Op Shops are such a Win Win!

  • People can get cheap clothes and household items.
  • Money raised by sales goes to do good work.
  • They give us a place to donate unwanted items and feel like we are making a difference.
  • It’s excellent recycling.
  • They give needy people access to information and support services that they may not otherwise know about or feel they can access.
  • There is a nice building of “community” amongst the volunteers, often older people wanting to “do something useful.”
  • There are always “brilliant finds” to be had.

Where was the First Op Shop in Australia?

I haven’t been able to find a reliable report of anyone claiming to be Australia’s earliest Op Shop!

However there are a few clues out there.

Part of the problem is that Op Shops evolved over the years rather than started “as is.”

In the 1880’s for example, The Salvation Army Australia set up depot’s to support men leaving prison.  They also started collecting and baling waste paper in one of their early fundraising initiatives. Then they started  holding one off Jumble Sales of clothes and household items that became very popular. Because of this they increased the frequency of these events until they became a permanent thing.  So it’s hard to date when the actual first “Shop” opened here.

(In the UK the Wolverhampton Society for the Blind is the first recognised shop in 1899, selling goods made by blind people to raise money for the Society. During the Great War various fund-raising activities occurred, such as a stall in Shepherd Market London for the Red Cross. The Second World War prompted a large number of Shops to set up, selling both manufactured fundraising items and  second hand goods.)

Are the Days of “Brilliant Finds” in Op Shops Over?

A lot of people say that they are! Talk to anyone who has been rummaging in Op Shops for over 10 years and they will tell you about “the good old days.”

A lot of shops are now more professional, they have more “sorters” of incoming goods and they now have the ability to quickly run a research check via the internet on unknown or interesting items. This has lead to much higher pricing on many items.

Unfortunately, as anyone who has quickly browsed ebay or a niche collectors site will tell you, prices listed online can often be widely inflated and set unrealistic expectations in the eyes of the Op Shop.

As  Darryl Kerrigan would famously say many times in that great Australian movie The Castle

“Tell em he’s Dreaming.”

I’m sure most of us can tell a story of that unrealistically priced item that we really wanted, that slowly gets worn, damaged or broken over many months or possibly years sitting behind the counter or on a shelf, with a price that won’t be altered, until it’s basically worthless.

As well, with the larger outlets, a lot of Goods now go to a central sorting facility where they are processed and then redistributed back to the shops. This means a lot of the “brilliant” Op Shop finds are removed from the supply chain before they even get to the Op Shop shelf.

Another disturbing trend is for some of the larger shops to now stock new items as well as donated items, positioning themselves in direct competition to the Discount type stores. This often takes up valuable shelf space. I’m sure the “bean counters” at Charity Headquarters have done their sums and more money is raised this way, but it does alter the perception of the outlet.

Op Shop Strategies

One of the key strategies of Op Shopping is to put in the regular visits. Like Fishing, Gold Panning or Bird Watching, you just have to put in the hours to get good results. I also think being a regular donator of goods as well as buyer of goods, means that you can build up a rapport with Op Shops that can help with price negotiations or even the awesome “I’ve got something out the back you might like” moment.

I also think there is a “sweet spot” in the size of Op Shops that produce “Brilliant Finds.” I have been to many huge Vinnies and Salvo’s Stores multiple times and often come away empty handed, while smaller independent outlets have produced useful items many times. Smaller and Mid Sized outlets that do their own thing are more productive.   I think this is also reflected in the Reviews online, reputation and of course the Top 5 Op Shop Award Winners list.

Another strategy is of course to stay one step ahead of the trends and to specialise in particular areas. Interests change. Items that are completely unloved one year, can become highly sought after collectables in the next one.

Ask any older Op Shop hunter about their “brilliant finds” and they will talk about the Art Deco Clarice Cliff jug they scored, the Australian Art Pottery vase found on a dusty shelf or the hallmarked Stirling Silver teaspoon in amongst the plated ones.

The younger generation of Op Shoppers, will tell you about their “brilliant finds” of original Tretchikoff Prints, Bitossi vases, Crystal Craft items and shrink wrapped VHS tapes!

What’s going to be collectable in a few years, who knows! You’re probably ignoring it right now.

The Ultimate Guide to Blue Mountains Op Shops.

As always here at Blue Mountains Insider, I start at the bottom of the Mountains and work our way up. We have tried to include Opening times when listed.

Our Top 5 Op Shop Awards take into account – Stock, Pricing, Layout, Reviews, General Atmosphere and Staff.

If you see any mistakes or outlets that should be listed, please let us know in the comments below or via the Contact Page.

Note – We only include in this article, “charity based Op Shops”. Outlets that are raising money for different charities or community projects. There are several small independent shops in the Blue Mountains that stock similar items, but are “for profit” so they will be listed in the Second Hand and Antiques page if appropriate.

Opening Times listed are sourced from NACRO, which is the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations. However not all Op Shops listed in this Resource are members of that Association.

(Note – Jan 2019 . This page is a work in progress. There are a few Op Shops that we will be adding, so Bookmark the Page and visit us again to keep up to date.

We have also started a Complete Directory of Charity Donation Bins in the Blue Mountains. These also change frequently.)

Glenbrook Op Shops

Frippery at Glenbrook    (Now Closed)
5 Ross Street
Glenbrook

This place, run by the Presbyterian Social Services has a lot of fans. Vintage and second hand clothes, some crockery, buttons, sewing patterns etc. There’s also some new items made with vintage material.

Blaxland Op Shops

Vinnies Blaxland        Top 5 Op Shop
132A Great Western Hwy
Blaxland  NSW  2774

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 9am-12pm

Two levels of your usual expectations, but with all the extra space downstairs there is room for plenty of furniture, making it a Top 5 Op Shop. We have always found them very friendly and they deliver for a small fee. There’s quite a good Book section at the rear of the top level and some LP records downstairs.

There is not much parking on the busy Great Western Highway, so we usually head around the back and you can normally park right outside the lower level. This is also useful if you are donating items.

Rotary Recycles

This has just opened in the old Bibles for Missions Op Shop location.
It’s the second to last shop on the left going west.

It’s a project of the Rotary Club of the Lower Blue Mountains.

I’ve just asked them about opening times and days and will update when I hear back.

 

Springwood Op Shops

Salvos Stores
63 Macquarie Rd,
Springwood NSW 2777

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 9am-2pm

This larger outlet is located just outside the main area of shops. If you turned into Springwood from the Highway heading West, it’s on your right as you head up into town.

There’s quite a good range of medium sized and larger items as well as plenty of smalls.

This place is very busy, yet it is well organised and efficient.

Plenty of parking, in their own carpark but watch the road as it is quite busy around there.

Vinnies Springwood
272 Macquarie Rd,
Springwood NSW 2777

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 9am-2pm

This middle sized store at the Western end of the town, has quite a good turnover, is fairly well laid out and often has some interesting items, but it has unfortunately earned a reputation of higher than normal  prices.

Red Cross Springwood
Springwood NSW 2777

Thur – Fri   9am – 2 pm

This is a very small Op Shop that sets up on a regular basis in the hall opposite the Library in Springwoods long main street. There’s usually not much there and some of the stuff has been there a long time,  but we like it and will always drop in if it’s open.

 

Leura Op Shops

 

Red Cross –  Leura

This is brand New!  On the Mall, Leura.
Will be open 7 days a week.
Next to the Westpac near the top.

More details soon.

Country Women’s Association
CWA Hall, 137 Megalong St, Leura

You can find this lovely small CWA Hall in bustling Leura. It’s more of a Market situation than an Op Shop but worth checking out.

Turn left into Megalong St as you go down the main street of the village and look out for it on the other side of the road, just past the corner.

From what I’ve been told, the CWA rents out the space to another group to run their fund raising efforts, so it’s a bit of a win win for the CWA.

1st Friday & Saturday of the Month
3rd Friday, Saturday & Sunday of the Month

Katoomba Op Shops

Blue Mountains Cancer Help Op Shop          Top 5 Op Shop
25 Whitton St,
Katoomba NSW 2780

This place has more great reviews on Google than most and this one sums it up

“Good stock, good prices, friendly staff.”

It’s a bit of an  “old school” Op Shop, but plenty of bargains to be had with a bit of a search.

Note – Whitton Street is in North Katoomba e.g it’s North of the Great Western Hwy.

Vinnies Katoomba
65 Waratah St,
Katoomba NSW 2780

Some people regard this jam packed outlet as one of the best around, but not everyone agrees. I expect they do quite well with passing trade on the way down to the Three Sisters. Plenty of clothes, books, crockery and glassware.

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 9am-12pm

Salvation Army Family Store
33 Waratah St
Katoomba NSW 2780

Located up the hill from Vinnies, opposite the large Woolworths / Big W complex.

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 9am-2pm

After a Fashion
193 Katoomba St,
Katoomba NSW 2780

A small shop on the right hand side of the main street as you head down the hill towards Waratah Street.It’s an odd mixture of clothing, not quite vintage. Worth a quick look. The Presbyterians run this one.

Anglicare Shop
195 Katoomba St,
Katoomba NSW 2780

Next door are the Anglicans.  Usually has much more stock and priced to sell.

 

Children’s Cancer Foundation Boutique Op Shop
156 Bathurst Rd, Katoomba NSW 2780

Mon-Fri 9am-4pm     Sat 10am-2pm

This place is a bit confusing. Is it an antique shop, a boutique or an Op Shop? Prices always seem on the high side. It’s near the big Dan Murphies outlet, so if you don’t get any bargains, you can wander back up and get some wine.

 

Blackheath Op Shops

 

Blackheath Community Op Shop      Top 5 Op Shop
134 Station St,
Blackheath NSW 2785

Tuesday – Sunday

This smallish Blue Mountains Op Shop is a real community gem and has plenty of fans around the local area. Funds raised from sales are fed back into community projects on a quarterly basis. Children’s items tend to be free and they are pretty flexible on pricing, preferring to keep the stock and money turning over.

They received a Blue Mountains Australia Day Community Achievement of the Year Award for 2019.

It’s situated on the other side of the Railway Lines from the main shopping village, essentially behind the Station.

 

Lithgow Op Shop

 

Vinnies Lithgow
193-197 Main Street,
Lithgow NSW 2790

Quite large and spacious with a good range of items and friendly staff. It’s probably a bit to travel out from Katoomba just to visit this shop, but if you are heading out west, it’s certainly worth checking it out on the way.

Anglicare  Lithgow

127 Main St, Lithgow NSW 2790

Thanks to Blue Mountains Insider reader Claudine for letting us know.
This outlet opened in Oct 2018

Monday – Friday
9:00am – 4:45pm
Saturday
9:00am – 2:45pm

 

The Ultimate Guide to Blue Mountains Charity Donation Bins

Note – This is a work in Progress. We thought it would be best to get a few up and then add to the list, rather than try to get a complete list. Bin Locations are always changing.

Please help us and the Charities out by leaving a comment with any extra current Charity Bin Locations or changes to the list.

Please help the Charities out by following the Guidelines listed on each bin about what should or should not be placed inside. The major reason for bins being removed is people NOT following the instructions on them. It often costs the Charity large amounts of time and money to deal with rubbish and unwanted items being placed inside.

Updated  14/4/19

 

 

Blue Mountains Charity Bin Locations

 

Glenbrook
Council Car Park

Winmalee 
Coles carpark  (near Vets)

Springwood
Beside Springwood Vinnies,  272 Macquarie Rd,

Faulconbridge

Behind the Shops on both sides of Highway.

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls Rd, near Church    (Check this ?)

Katoomba
In large carpark between Coles ,Target & Pryor Place

Sharing is caring!

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Claudine Chung February 22, 2019, 11:12 am

    What about Anglicare in Lithgow been open 6mths

    • TimothyH March 14, 2019, 2:14 am

      Thanks Claudine! We haven’t been out since Oct/Nov so may have missed it. There’s a new Gallery opened as well so I think a Road Trip is called for.

      Thank You

  • Jessie Horan May 14, 2019, 8:01 am

    Is it just me or are there only 3 “Top 5” Op-Shops listed here?

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post:

shares