We asked op-shop professionals for their vintage shopping tips


Whether you call it vintage, secondhand, thrift or op-shopping – it is an essential pursuit for any fashionista on a budget.

Yet, a cursory glance through the racks doesn’t tend to yield the find of the century. Op-shopping is an art – and an art that you can be good or bad at. You can come away with a vintage treasure or you can find yourself leaving with retro rubbish.

That in mind, we hit our local op-shops and picked the brains of the thrifting experts who work there to help you get the most of a good trawl through the racks – because who knows more about op-shops than those who run them?

Kellen, Tatty's Ponsonby

Kellen @ Tatty’s Ponsonby
163 Ponsonby Road

“What I love about vintage shopping is you can get such individual pieces that you wouldn’t get at just a regular store. When someone asks you “Oh, where’d you get that thing?” and you can say “It’s the only one and you can’t have it. It’s mine!”

Kellen’s tips:
– Think outside the box – could you transform this into something really cool with a bit of DIY?
– Find out which days are the best days to come into op-shops and when they put out their new stuff.
– Put it on hold and leave the store. If you forget about it, you didn’t really want it. If you really still want it, it’s probably worth it.
– Don’t op-shop when you’re tired or annoyed at everything. You won’t be up for exploring!

Lucy @ Thriftway
153 Karangahape Road

“Check what you’re buying. Google what label it is and if it’s a good brand, you can get things that you know are good quality and are going to last you. Invest wisely.”

Lucy’s tips:
– Hunt continuously through everything so you find all the hidden gems.
– Make sure what you are buying is a reasonably good brand so it lasts longer.
– Go for good quality fabrics. They last and they will always look good.


191 -193 Karangahape Road

“Personally, I look for something of value that I think will last… I do have a lot of clothes! I’m at the point where you can only have so many t-shirts, so now I’m thinking more about classic items in men’s fashion.”

Simon’s tips:
– Look for men’s shoes first. Great men’s shoes are often hard to find in vintage shops.
– Don’t be stuck to an idea of what you want to find – that’s just going to stop you seeing other amazing things.
– Guys, you don’t have to wear your purchase every day. A lot of people think to themselves when purchasing: “Can I wear this every day for the next 25 years?” You don’t need to think like that when you’re op-shopping!


@The Bread and Butter Letter
225 Karangahape Road

“I’m not opposed to walking away with duds because to me that’s the point of op-shopping. You can walk away with as much as you want – I like to give my purchases time to work with my current wardrobe and if it doesn’t work out I can just take them back to another op-shop.”

Nina’s tips:
– Focus on really good fabrics and cool prints. You will always love those pieces.
– Go for wardrobe staples. The things you get the most wear out of will be the most valuable to you.
– Don’t get too picky. You end up missing out on things that could have worked really well if only you’d given it a go.
– The boy’s section has great denim that hasn’t been worn much… Meanwhile, the designer section has usually been picked over.


@Paper Bag Princess
145 Karangahape Road

“I love finding things that are really funky. I don’t buy anything that you could just buy from wherever. And under $20? Hell yeah.”

Willa’s tips:
– Envisage yourself wearing your potential purchase to see if it works for you and your look.
– Look through every single thing and resign yourself to the fact you might have to be there for a long time to find the best items.
– Chat with the people that work in your op-shop. They know where the good stuff is.

Watch the video to see what each pro chose as their favourite piece in store:

Words and video: Alex Blackwood
Photos: What Goes Around Comes Around/Instagram/Supplied