Guest Post: Dad Down Under, the Op Shop-a-holic

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A few years ago, I published a blog post asking the question "Do Men Thrift?", written after a discussion Mr Recycled and I had as to why he does not share the same passion as Op Shopping as I.

Since publishing that post, it has become apparent that some men folk do indeed share the love of the thrifty shop, perhaps heightened by Macklemore's recent hit "Thrift Shop".

Today, I have a guest blog post written by Matt from Dad Down Under, who is a self confessed Op Shop-a-holic!
 Dad Down Under with son Max

Matt shares some tactics behind Op Shopping with a small child, which I am sure any thrift shopping parent of a toddler can relate to:

My Name is Dad Down Under and I Am an Op Shop-a-holic, by Matt Ross

I am a bona fide lover of the Op Shop. Op Shops have served me well through the years; I got my first suit in an Op Shop, it was several sizes too big for me, it had a dubious stain on the crotch and smelt of cat pee but I still felt like James Bond in it. These days it’s all about keeping my son on trend with toys and clothes, actually sometimes it’s just about bribing him. “if you do A, I’ll give you B”, and B costs less in an Op Shop.

 :: Dad Down Under's Best Thrifty Finds ::

I’m a happy Daddy when trawling through any Op Shop but I do have a favourite. This particular Op Shop is bang in the middle of one of Melbourne’s more affluent suburbs. This suburb also seems to be a prime breeding ground for young families, dare I say rich young families with copious amounts of disposable income that they are not afraid to spend. In other words this particular Op Shop is stocked full of Rupert and Tabitha’s unwanted cast offs. Fancy frocks, rocking horses, ride on cars, jewel encrusted tiaras, balance bikes and generally things that we are too broke/sensible to buy ourselves.

But the clincher is the Greek Grandmother called Martha who works there. Martha is what people refer to as a people person, it’s fair to say Martha likes to talk a lot, and why not - she is very good at it and nice words come out of her mouth. She also loves children and has taken a particular shine to my son. Max only has to look at a toy and she stuffs it into a bag and forces it into my hand, “don’t worry darling I will buy you that one”. The only rule is that Max has to kiss her on the cheek, at first he was quite hesitant to ‘pay her’ but like Pavlov’s Dogs he has since learnt the relationship between kiss and reward. Martha has already told me she has a beautiful granddaughter that would be “perfect for your son”, eek!

In truth the actual process of shopping with Max is a delicate and strategic one. He enters a shop with the authority of someone who believes everything in there already belongs to him. He pulls books off the shelves, man handles teddy bears, empties puzzles, tries on hats and generally runs amok. It’s a high speed race between me and him, I know I have a small time frame to locate toys, books and clothes before Max can no longer cope with the dizzying array of goodies and has a full scale meltdown.
  • I take his lunch or snacks along for the ride and have an impromptu picnic in the middle of the shop 
  • I flirt with the shop staff, male or female, in the hope that when things get noisy, and they will get noisy, they take a little bit of pity on me. 
  • On entering the shop I grab a pile of books that will keep him occupied and buy me a little time, who knows he might even learn something? 
  • And when the noise does come, I mean really come, I quickly scoop him up in one arm, pay the lady with the other and run for it. It sounds drastic but it works.
The most traumatic Op Shop experience to date came when Max saw his favorite Thomas The Tank Engine train (Victor if you care) hidden under a pile of Lego. The thing you need to understand about my son is that he lives for Thomas the Tank Engine, if I want him to take a bath I have to tell him that his “engine needs a wash” and if he isn’t eating his dinner I tell him “it’s coal and coal makes you go faster”. Under any normal circumstances this is a moment of joyous celebration, the trouble is that another boy spotted the train at the same time and they both made a grab for it. Max definitely had his mitts on it first but I was about to do the decent thing and ask Max to let the little boy have the train when his Mum came charging over demanding to know why her boy was crying and what had Max done.   

It then became a matter of principle. “I’m afraid your boy saw my son’s toy train that we had brought out with us and tried to take it, we let him have a little play because we’re good like that but we have to go now”. The little boy seemed to know that I was telling his Mum a pack of lies but didn’t quite have the vocabulary to tip her off.

Give the boy his train back Rupert”. Mum said. “Say thank you to Rupert, Max” And with that I took the train, took my child, slipped $5 onto the cashiers desk and ran for it, I’m not sure why so many of our shopping trips involve me running away but they do.

 :: Behold the Op Shopped 'Victor' Thomas The Tank Engine ::

Matt Ross is a stay at home parent and daddy blogger. He has two children, one is The Boy who insists on following him everywhere and has a hankering for diggers and biccies, the other is his blog, don’t ask him to choose a favourite, a parent never tells. Mrs Under plays the role of photographer, proof reader, bread winner and beautiful wife and she does them all very well.

Matt comes from England and came to Melbourne in 2008 in search of sun, sea and sport and has since therefore come over all snobby about bikes, coffee and food which pretty much makes him a regular Melbournite. Australia is now his home and a very nice one it is too. Matt proudly wears the Modern Man label and writes about parenting from a Stay at Home Dad’s perspective plus food, fitness, fashion and travel with little people around. He encourages his readers to get into the inner sanctum of the male psyche journeying through Dadhood or alternatively have a good laugh at how pathetic they are.

You can follow more Dad Down Under antics and adventures via the usual social media haunts:

Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Instagram and Pinterest

Thanks Matt for sharing your Op Shopping stories!


PS. Please do check out our two great giveaways currently running:

1. current giveaway of two amazing ethically made, fair trade t-shirts up for grabs from Humanitees.
2. current giveaway for a double pass to The Clothing Exchange clothes swapping event in Melbourne next Monday night.


I Love To Op Shop said...

Gotta be quick with Thomas, handled well I thought hahaha !

Unknown said...

It's dog eat dog out there, I saw my opportunity and I took it : )

Unknown said...

We often get op shop goodies for bribery or rewards here too. Flirting with the op shop workers sounds like a good ploy. :)

Is your favourite op shop one you want to keep a secret? Are you a competitive op shopper?

Jill said...

Great post! There is so much for kids to find in the op-shops. My girls are a little older - but love coming "treasure hunting" with me in the holidays!

Unknown said...

Its I secret but I forget the name, its in Albert Park near the library Sharon, just leave me the Thomas toys please ; )

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