Yes I've been listening to the Beatles whilst writing this piece!!
I'm off on an op shop tour at the weekend with Melbourne Op Shop Tours and it got me thinking, Googling and doing a bit of emailing and I now know what might happen in Adelaide.
Thanks to Shelly and Rowena for telling us about You, Us and a Bus
How did the tours start?
"Shelly and I met at our kid's school and had a passion for op shops. We ran a few small group tours but decided to increase the numbers and form a business in 2009. This year in May we will be celebrating our third birthday."
Who are your main customers and do you have many repeat customers?
"Our tours are for young, old, Mums, Dads, grandparents, kids and all in between. We have a huge following and many regulars that come every month. We call it the You..Us..and a Bus family and we are all really good friends. On average we have about 40% of customers on the bus having travelled with us before, probably 90% of the group are seasoned op shoppers with a small percentage 'virgin' op shoppers (as we like to call them). That's where Shelly and I can come in handy, to show them the ropes, how stores are set out, where to look, what is discounted, what labels to look for and how to enjoy the experience."
How do you plan the trips, tour numbers and shops ect..?
"Before we publicise a tour it is stringently put together by Shelly and myself. We visit stores, check various criteria like: is it big enough, stocked well enough, can they provide a small discount for our customers, are there happy smiling faces, can the bus get there, is there room for the bus to park, is everything safe for our customers, is there variety in store and so forth. We like to include at least one community run store (ie., church or overseas charity) on a tour and if a store can provide morning tea for a donation by us then that's a bonus (otherwise we do our own morning tea for everyone). We prefer to be on the bus for the least amount of time possible, therefore we map the tour with this in mind - most stores have a minimum of 45 minutes shopping time."
Can you tell us about some highlights?
"Bargains, best buys, interesting items: we have had the following on the bus with us - bar stools, garden outdoor chairs, wrought iron clothes racks, vintage suitcases, original painting by SA artist 2m x 1m, vintage metal cake cupboard, teak coffee table, kids wooden sit-in rocker, antique bustle chair. There are so many best buys we could go on for days, but my absolute best that I missed - brand new Oroton leather bag (new season, RRP $300), with our special bus discount the customer paid $40.00. Furs, leather boots, leather handbags, Glomesh handbags, shoes, shoes and more shoes, cheap books and the list goes on - and that's the thing with op shopping, every time we visit a store people find such different items, it is amazing."
We don't think one tour is better than the other because the turn over of items at stores is 100s a day and some stores receive deliveries from warehouses, so whether you're shopping East, West, North or South, a bargain is waiting for you. If I personally had to name a few stores, these would be on my list:
- For vintage: no one can beat Dressers and Drawers at Queenstown (near Pt Adelaide)
- For general apparel: my locals - Vinnies and Red Cross at Kidman Park, Salvos and Goodwill at Findon. Both locations have two stores.
- For interesting apparel: Goodwill, Hindley St, Adelaide (all sorts of vintage, groovy, retro, assorted stuff)
- For bric a brac: Salvos Store, Goodwood Rd, Kings Park
- For a day out: cannot beat Savers, Noarlunga - we call it the Bunnings of Op Shops and they have the best staff, you need at least 3 hours!!
That was hard because we have so many wonderful stores and staff involved in our tours!
Thanks again to Shelly and Rowena, I can feel your enthusiam and passion from here and it's lovely, now if you could just do a slight detour and pick me up in Melbourne on the next tour I'd shout you both lunch!!