Sunday, November 22, 2009

Salvation Army Op Shop, Balaclava

This is a new location for the Salvation Army Op Shop in Balaclava. It's a big space in a converted garage, facing the St Kilda Town Hall on busy Carlisle St. The old store was on the corner of Inkerman St and Brighton Rd.

At 4am (I used to drive to work early) all sorts of street workers and fringe dwellers congregated around the old store and it was the "sidewalk epicenter" of dumped clothes and furniture in St Kilda.

The Salvos and the army of volunteers who run the op-shop have done a fantastic job, making the most of the warm, bright space and a huge collection of clothes, shoes, bags, home-wear, furniture and other second-hand items. There is plenty of stock, and it's been well separated to make browsing easy.

The "garage" style space (an industrial roller door has been converted into the changing rooms) is divided into two, open spaces. What I would describe as the "high-end" recycled clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery surrounds the counter. The dress collection is unique, a great juxtaposition of pattern, texture and style. I loved this calf-length black dress that had gathered shoulder-pads, embroidered shoulders and back and Grecian style draping on the front.

Designer clothing is well constructed, but it can be very plain. There was an extensive collection of trousers, jeans and jackets from designers like Prada, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino (the Valentino was a pair of white jeans.) The slouchy Prada pants (a light camel colour) had some stains around the legs, but were in excellent condition.

I admired a multi-coloured, Chanel-style jacket from Perri Cutten and a white linen jacket from John Cavill. There was a great sense of colour-coding and organisation. The shoes had been separated into different colours and matched with similar coloured hats and hair accessories. Amongst an average bag collection, there were these old fashioned purses with brass tops that clipped together and long shoulder-straps.

I browsed for an hour, carefully combing over the entire store. The other section of the op-shop feels more like a warehouse. The collection of chunky knits and slender cardigans was unseasonal, but impressive.

It was a jumble in the home wear section, like a Sunday garage sale with piles of cutlery, plates, glass wear and other miscellaneous items piled on top of each other. Cool salt and pepper shakers made from plastic a Vladimir Lenin were the highlight of a haphazard collection.

There was an impressive selection of business wear and men's ankle boots, complimented by a great tuxedo suit with a satin lining on the collar. Mattresses, nightwear, bras, books and a colourful children's wear and toys section rounded out a thoroughly diverse collection.

The prices were reasonable, though a little more expensive than I have encountered in some other Salvo's op-shops. Staff are friendly, and as I said earlier, they really have done an impressive job in establishing an interesting new store.

where is it?

how do i get there? Tram no.16 (catch the tram all the way to Acland St, St Kilda. The tram then diverts up Carlisle St)
will i have to wait for a change room? 3 change room
whats on the stereo? Fox FM
i'm hungry? stop by at Cafe Bruce, a couple of doors up. good food and great smoothies.

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