Archive for August 13th, 2009

Op Shops

Posted on 13 August 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Selling pre-loved books online can be a solitary occupation. Yes, I do have to go out to find the books and I can interact with people at those times, but there comes a time when I just have to bite the bullet, go home and start taking photos of all the books so I can list them. I have quite a backlog of books from bulk buys and other times when I’ve done a lot of buying and not a lot of listing so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at home by myself working hard. Very solitary.

Some time ago I figured I needed to get out and speak to people. I had just shaved my head for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shaveand was feeling very bold so while I was in the op shop I asked them about volunteering. I chose them carefully, they have a great pricing policy and I was encouraged to speak to people. I’ve now been there for two years and am considered trained. We are a very low-tech shop. All our sales are written, by hand, into a book and added up at the end of the day. A lot of our volunteers are in the latter part of their lives. The op shop around the corner has recently upgraded from a fairly old, but easy to learn, till to a computer with a fairly complicated programme. For someone in my age group who has used computers almost every day for 20+ years it’s reasonably straightforward with quite a few things to remember but for someone in the older age group who is starting to slow down and having trouble learning more complicated things it’s going to be much harder to learn. The person using it today is probably 30 years younger than the people I’ve previously been served by.

Those of you who are regular op shop attendees may have noticed a tendency towards younger staff members. Until recently they have been run by the older generations and in many cases it’s given them something to do, somewhere to go and people contact. I know from my op shop that this can be vital. We have some people who are starting to need a lot more supervision than they used to and everyone is rallying around to ensure they receive the proper supervision to keep them on rather than ‘retiring them’. Many of the larger op shops are now run by paid managers and they have targets they must reach. In order to do this they’ve increased their prices to such an extent that many people I know buy very little at them. These managers are younger and are quite comfortable with up-to-date technology. So many of the older people will not be able to cope with this technology and may just retire from the op shop thus reducing their outings and in some cases the op shop is the only time they get out. I’m sure there are people out there who will be able to discuss this on a personal basis or a society basis, I’m just giving my observations. I don’t have a problem with younger people coming in to help out in an op shop, I just object to having the older generations shoved out in this way. I feel we should be valuing their age and experience rather than devaluing it.

What does all this have to do with books? When op shops increase their prices it becomes unprofitable for people like me to buy there for selling. So many people I know refuse to shop at op shops any more as the prices have been raised too high, in some cases secondhand goods are equal to or cost more than the same brand new item. I ask the question, what is going to happen to op shops when people stop buying there as they feel they may as well have new goods for the same price? Another question, if op shops close what will happen to all those goods people would normally donate? Will they just go to landfill?

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