Community Op-Shops more than a 2nd Hand Shop

By Michelle Dunscombe

When you walk into your local Op Shop what do you see? Probably just a range of second hand goods at a bargain price.

You may be aware that you are supporting a charity or a local community organisation but what you don’t see or consider is the great social impact and community building roles your local op shop plays in your community.

Many Op Shops are not just a social enterprise supporting community through the sale of goods, did you know they

  • provide a place for our retirees to come together to “give back” to their communities
  • support mums returning to work get their mojo (confidence) back
  • are a place for long term unemployed to gain training, new skills and confidence when embarking upon returning to the workforce
  • encourage young people and uni students gain valuable work experience
  • work with local disability services to provide local volunteering opportunities for their clients
  • up skill their volunteers through training
  • give social support people with mental health issues

A local shop recently had an impromptu performance by a customer purchasing a guitar to the delight of volunteers and other customers.


Op Shops are in the business of building a sense of community, connecting people, creating opportunities for residents to explore possibilities and providing a common purpose for their volunteers.

Definitely, more than just a 2nd hand shop – they provide opportunities.

When you shop at your local op shop you are not just getting a bargain you are recycling, supporting community building activities and contributing to real grassroots asset based community development in your town.