Typical op shops are full of racks jammed with assorted clothing, and shelves piled with household goods, linen, crockery and bric-a-brac. They have a chaotic and sometimes disordered appearance and atmosphere – but many shoppers, particularly collectors who are hunting for their favourite items, enjoy this ambience. This 2006 photograph shows the supervisor of the Butterflies shop in Dunedin, Robyn Elliman, wearing an outfit and shoes from the shop which cost $19 all together.
Elizabeth Smither’s 1986 poem ‘In the second-hand clothes shop’ captures this atmosphere:
Lounge lizards and ladies of the night
Have been here and gone off in disguise
All it takes for a safari is a cork hat
It takes an eagle eye to gut the racks.
Unpleasant morally? A touch of
The sawn-off gun. These suits lined up
To get their backs plugged against a wall.
We cannot be deterred by others’ crimes.
Here we’re all criminals. Where else do you find
Such delicate safe-blowers’ fingertips
Furtively tumbling labels, trying on
Another’s skin that fits us like a lamp.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Otago Daily Times
Photograph by Gerard O'Brien
Permission of the Otago Daily Times must be obtained before any re-use of this image.