Savers Scandal

Words by: Hannah Schauder
Art by: Amanda Jambu

Any avid declutterer or op shopper (guilty as charged) will relate to the immense satisfaction of taking your unwanted clothes to your local op shop for them to resell and donate to their charity of choice.

It eases the guilt of our constant purchases and provides a sense of gratification in the way that our donations are contributing to a greater cause. But unfortunately, like all bright fantasies, there are some dark corners. 

Savers Australia, an op shop chain with five stores in Melbourne, has been found to be hiding some dirty laundry. It’s been alleged over the years (to my op shop heart’s horror) that this chain has been giving as little as 3 per cent of their revenue to the charities they’ve marketed to be raising money for. After donating peanuts to charities including Diabetes Australia and YMCA Victoria, Savers would send the clothes they couldn’t sell to developing nations for resale. Yikes

While commercial benefit is not a hidden component for any op shop business, how these not-for-profits
walk the tightrope of running a business while contributing to social causes is usually unclear to the public. 

So, I’m going to give you some insight into which op shops are doing the good work and are deserving of your money and sexy second-hand leggings. 

Thryft (St Kilda)

Top of my list is a gorgeous hippy little op shop called Thryft, who sell cute high-quality second-hand clothes,
shoes and accessories for $5 or less. Thryft is one of three op shops that raises money for an organisation
called Pay A Sack Forward. Pay A Sack aims to support those experiencing homelessness in Australia through the distribution of “survival sacks”, which include food items and essential hygiene products. 

Thryft is currently running Instagram auctions to continue raising money during the COVID-19 period at @thryft_opshop.

Posh Op Shoppe (Carnegie and Elsternwick)

Another non-problematic op shop chain for your donation needs is the Posh Op Shoppe; the David Jones of op shops as I like to call it. Selling everything from pianos to board shorts, both shops have spent over 20 years raising money for the Jewish Children’s Aid Society (JCAS). JCAS provides educational support for children with special needs in Jewish day schools across Melbourne, and is currently supporting nearly 250 children at nine schools.  

Greeves St. Recycling Shop (St Kilda)

Greeves St. is a social enterprise initiative of St Kilda Gatehouse, which supports women involved in street-based sex work as a result of abuse, addiction, poverty and other hardships. Proceeds from recycled and
up-cycled clothing go towards St Kilda Gatehouse who provide safe spaces and resources for women
in these circumstances. 

Epilepsy Op Shops (Northern Melbourne Suburbs)

The Epilepsy Foundation, Australia’s leading epilepsy organisation, runs op shops across nine Melbourne suburbs. While the op shops are more on the quaint side, donations and profits go towards supporting families affected by epilepsy and into research centres looking to find a cure. 

The Conscious Closet (Online)

The Conscious Closet is the retail initiative for Fitted For Work, an organisation that helps disadvantaged women get into work by offering employment services, leadership training and outfits for job interviews. The Conscious Closet sells second hand designer and high-end clothing for affordable prices, with all profits going towards Fitted For Work’s programs and services. They’ve also moved their wares to eBay, so you can keep shopping to your heart’s content.

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