The Indefinitive Guide To Auckland Op Shops
For those of you outside of the antipodes, they're charity or thrift shops (or as I learnt from Jenny Dos "Loppis" in Swedish) but we call them op shops, because we're cute. The "op" of course stands for "opportunity" and not in fact "Old Person" as I thought when I first moved to New Zealand as a sullen teenager.
This is all completely irrelevant because if you don't know what I mean by op shops, then this post is as helpful to you as a "how to cook a roast" video is to a vegetarian (but hey no judgement, I still watch Bake Off and I can't bake for toffee).
Anyway, I thought I'd round up some of my Auckland op shopping tips in one handy (yet waffling) post. As is the standard op shop disclaimer, it's a luck on the day kind of sport and you win some and lose some. Sometimes these shops deliver the goods, other days its a total waste of time. You've got to be in the right mindset for op shopping and you've got to be prepared to look and take your time.
BUT, here are a list of op shops I know, consider worth checking and visit when I can. They're in no particular order but grouped for general area. I'm a shore girl, turned South Auckland girl so sorry West, Central and East .. oh and "Coast" Auckland, I don't know you so well - but please add your finds in the comments to help with the list!
*EDIT: This list ended up far longer and more wordy than I envisaged. So to summarise, my favourite "never miss" (they do say theres nothing worse than a missed opportunity...shop) stores are highlighted asterisked.
I've been opshopping in Birkenhead since I was a teenager, it's by far my favourite North Shore spot and makes for a really lovely afternoon of perusing with plenty of places to stop for a coffee (recommend Junction for coffee, amazing Material Creative decor and views to die for). Special not-op-shop shop mention to Crave - you have to pop in to this lovely shop run by my friend Jude.
Park in the Highbury mall carpark (don't feel bad, the guy that owns it is that guy that shot an elephant so using his parking spaces for hours is TOTALLY ok), and walk down (like 2 mins) to Hinemoa Street. My directions are awful but they're all easily walkable.
In the little cluster of shops right next to the carpark is:
Birkenhead Hospice: Not a sure thing but worth a look, sometimes too expensive but that's a hospice thing, good selection of clothes and bric a brac. But next door is...
*The Hospice Bookshop: Now this is a hidden gem, it's where all the special/nice books, prints, vintage postcards etc are set up as a proper little bookshop. I always find something good here, usually gifts for my Dad because he loves old books but I don't think I've ever left this one empty handed.
On Hinemoa Street there is:
Birkenhead Salvation Army: This is a biggie, it's a bit chaotic and messy but the prices are good and they have a high turnover. Lots of furniture, lots of clothes, lots of everything really.
Round the back of the KFC there's a second hand clothes shop (not op shop) in the old Hammer Hardware, I can't remember what it's called but it's set up super cute and they have some good stuff. Prices are mixed (eg. they have my budgie print on the wall for $150 which has been there forever, next to a Frida Kahlo print for $200 but what evs) but when I last visited I got this great coat, and my friend got a pair of Jeremy Scott x Adidas (the ones with the stuffed panda heads!) so definitely worth a look.
*Birkenhead SPCA: Has moved round the corner on to street. This is always a good one, plus the volunteers loudly spout their lefty political opinions which in a suburb so blue you worry it might pass out is refreshing and fun.
Birkehead IHC: Just along from the SPCA but sadly lacking in both the goods, and the banter. It's a small shop, and half of it is dedicated to books (but not cute ones, mostly John Grisham). That said, it's super close so why not.
While you're on the shore, check out...
*The BIG Hospice Shop on Ellis Road, Glenfield: It's massive, and round the back is furniture warehouse too. Despite its size it's not always a sure thing as the Hospice distributes the good stuff around stores but definitely worth a look. Parking is a total pain though.
St Vincent De Paul on Ellis Road, Glenfield: Opposite the above, fairly sizeable just clothes and brick a brac really. Worth a look if you're already there.
Admittedly I haven't been up to Brown's Bay in a long time but it has some good op shops.
BB Hospice: Fairly big and tidy. Prices can be astronomical.
BB SPCA: Bright, tidy but always quite full of stuff. This one is definitely worth a look.
BB Red Cross: Mostly clothes, prices are fair.
BB Salvation Army: (on the road leading out of BB): Used to be better but parking is easy and it's on your way home so why not?
Ok, I'm skipping right back over the bridge now to Onehunga and from here on in it's South Auckland because that's how (and where) I roll. Again, a good spot to wander round, get some lunch (chicken & cranberry pie at Luscious cafe). A couple of the op shops are further up Onehunga Mall, a couple are down closer to the Dressmart.
*The Vintage Store Onehunga: This one is just on the corner by the round about right next to Dressmart. Don't let the name confuse you, it's not a vintage store - that's the branding for the care for the elderly op shops. This is a great opshop for newbies (as well as oldies obviously) as it's a good size, but bright, laid out in a clear, sensical way and entirely not overwhelming. It also has good selection of stuff and the prices are fair, so I almost always buy something from here.
Onehunga SPCA: A few shops down from The Vintage Store. This is a mix of clothes, brick a brac, and a bit of furniture. I wouldn't call this one a gold mine, but also I've had some good stuff from here including a cute mustard yellow retro armchair for $40.
Onehunga Salvation Army: This one is up the hill a bit, next to The Baby Factory. A good size and the prices are cheap here. I don't know if she's the manager of just a really hardworking volunteer but the girl who is always on the counter is a total ray of sunshine every time I go in.
*Onehunga Saint Vincent de Paul: This one is kind of diagonally opposite the Sallie army. It doesn't look like much from the outside but it has loads of clothes, a decent amount of furniture and brick a brac, including some proper vintage stuff. My friend found a Gorman dress here. Prices can be on the high side but fair.
Also worth noting, that one is next door to The Aromatherapy Co factory shop which is so cheap!
This is more my regular stomping ground, so rather than a nice leisurely afternoon browsing, I mostly pop in on my way home from something or "to avoid traffic".
Manukau Salvation Army: Getting this one out of the way, I hardly ever bother going here sadly as it just never really has anything and seems almost understocked. I'm not sure what the deal is with this one as Manukau is huge but this shop is small and disappointing.
Manukau Hospice: This is my most regular, it's behind The Warehouse, and super convenient to screech in to on my way home. Sometimes it feels a bit empty, but I think it's getting better. It has a bit of everything and I almost always find something here. They organise clothes by sizes which is super handy and have a lot of 14+ sized clothes which is worth noting. The staff are always cheery and kind and having a laugh.
*Otara Restore (Habitat for Humanity): This is worth a trip out to for sure because it's huge, they've changed it around since I first went here and now has a seperate big clothing shop with furniture and "stuff" in the other. I've seen such gems as a cane peacock headboard and a Tretchikoff print here, they know their stuff so prices on these things aren't especially cheap, but they're fair and Habitat for Humanity does great work. I have it on good authority that the last weekend of the month they almost always have a big sale on stuff too.
Papatoetoe Second Hand Selection: Not an op shop but one of my little secrets for sure. The guy who owns this always calls me "mate" which I find very endearing and feminist of him. It's packed full of stuff and kind of random but always worth a look!
*Papatoetoe The Vintage Store: As mentioned before, not an actual vintage store but a good op shop, it can seem a bit all over the place when you go in but I've found some really good stuff here. They do seem to get retro furniture in fairly regularly too.
Papatoetoe Salvation Army: This one used to be an indian restaurant so look up and there are assorted chandeliers for lighting which always make me smile. Unfortunately if it was a restaurant these days it would probably be called “slim pickings” - most of the stock these days seems to be bulk lots of new but awful clothes and shoes, so lots of the same thing. However, they do usually have a good selection of beautiful Sari's and indian clothing and also stock a bit of furniture (though less than they used to).
Papakura can be an op shop gold mine or a total bust, just depending on when you go. A couple of the larger op shops are now "out of town" on Great South Road so there isn't heaps in Papakura proper.
Papakura St Vincent De Paul: Only a small shop but I do seem to find something in here most visits.
Papakura Salvation Army: This one should be good, but like Manukau just isn't really. It's big enough that it's always worth a look if you're close by, but not worth a special trip. Lots of kids stuff at this one.
the other one: Just up from the sallie army there is the most crowded little op shop, I can't remember what it's called. The ladies are sweet but it's very claustrophobic and they need to get rid of some stock.
Takanini Red Cross: They call this a super store, as it has a furniture room next door. Sadly it doesn't really live up to expectations, it feels quite empty and the furniture bit is a total shambles. It's next to the much better Hospice shop though and offers good parking behind the store.
*Takanini Hospice: This is a pretty reliable one for me, for brick a brac, clothes and a bit of furniture.
The Gardens Hospice: Only little, very neighbourly but I quite often find things in here. It's on its own though so unless you live in or near The Gardens it's probably not worth driving too especially.
Manurewa Hospice: Again a little one, the manager is lovely and they do good brick a brac. It's near the pharmacy so I have a look in whenever I'm waiting but as above, I wouldn't make a trip especially.
Manurewa St Vincent De Paul: Totally hit or miss, but again it's near the pharmacy so I'll look in if I'm local. (I know, I know, I should have been a professional reviewer).
I have a real fondness for this South Auckland farming town. I don't know if it's the fact that shortened it reads as "Puke" and I get texts from my mum asking if I want to "Meet for coffee in puke". OR the fact that the (unofficial) mascots are the onion and potato. So classic. So Puke. Anyway, when I do meet my rural parents (they're my only parents, I don't have an urban or suburban set) for coffee on a Saturday morning every few weeks, we always check round the op shops. Which are:
Pukekohe SPCA: In a bit of a weird spot kind of in a carpark behind King Street. It's smallish, and okish but I've never really found any treasure here.
Pukekohe Hospice: On King Street, it's a busy popular shop and I've found good stuff in here. Unfortunately recently there is a really rude staff member who chastises both volunteers and shoppers meanly, which is a bit of a ruiner. But one bad apple (or onion) etc etc.
*Pukekohe Salvation Army: Just along from Hospice, this one is huge and busy - you almost always have to queue for the till which is great for charity. Prices are fair and I almost always find something in here.
*Pukekohe St Johns Ambulance: This is a little bit out of town, next to the Bin Inn but well worth moving the car for. A nice shop with a bit of everything, everything is nicely bundled together and clean and the prices are fair. A great one for everything really.
Pukekohe REstore: This one has recently moved in to the centre of town and apparently it’s just not what it used to be and a lot more expensive which is a huge shame as I would have previously rated it as my number 1! I’m going to give it a bit more of a chance to settle in to it’s new space before I call it!
Ok, I think that's it for shops I'm really familiar with but please do add your own Auckland op shop reviews in the comments!