Recently relocated from Wellington and with nothing but a suitcase, Christchurch Mail reporter ARIELLE MONK put herself to the test of furnishing an entire home for less than $1000 - turning to the city's wealth of second- hand stores for help.
Op shopping is without a doubt my first love, despite a rocky start to our relationship.
My mum used to drag me through the opportunity shops of South Waikato without a thought for the shame factor she was inflicting on me. What if other kids saw me in there?
Since then, however, my tastes have shifted from shiny new things to share mum's love of the retro, vintage and pre-loved.
I moved to Christchurch in November with only a suitcase in hand. I scoured op shops, Trade Me and garage sales until I'd kitted out my tiny Linwood flat completely, for less than $600.
Don't misunderstand - my household items are all in good condition and they look nice - stylish, even. It just didn't cost the earth, because I had the financial sense to buy second-hand gear.
My fiance doesn't seem to share my views. He doesn't see that the latest pile of items I've hauled home is, in fact, a treasure trove that I have rescued from disuse.
The word "hoarder" has been bandied about.
However, the reality is that opportunity shops are just that - full of opportunity, if you're willing to dig for it.
Whether you're starting a student flat or looking to stretch your family's dollar a little bit further, there is furniture for everyone, in varying conditions and price ranges.
The Salvation Army store on Cranford St is a great place to look for the bigger ticket items, and Easy Traders on Worcester St is perfect for sorting your whiteware needs - particularly as they'll usually include a 12-month guarantee.
An unknown Christchurch op shopper-extraodinaire manages fromtheuniverse.org, a website solely dedicated to categorised op shop listings for fellow magpies.
The categories, complete with phone numbers and addresses, include a style-focused list of clothing outlets around the city.
Some people may get carried away while op shopping for clothes as it tends to be so cheap. I've been sucked into this trap and have the overflowing wardrobe to prove it.
It's no use buying, only to return to the same shop's back door two months later.
So, to avoid bagging tonnes of stuff you'll never wear again, try everything on to get the right sizes, colours and cuts.
The Eco-Shop is a warehouse on Blenheim Rd filled with unwanted bits and bobs in every category imaginable, but I suggest you head in with an idea of what you're after or you could get lost for hours.
My current favourite is the Papanui Salvation Army.
I scored an amazing amount of stuff there for a neat $60, including an English-made dinner set, a near-perfect set of steak knives and three pots for $6 that would've cost me $39.99 at Briscoes (and that's the sale price, of course).
It's these little things that can add up too. Think dish racks, cutlery trays, Tupperware, utensils, tea towels - it's all available, usually for $1 a piece or less.
As Macklemore would say, "one man's trash is another man's treasure".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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