Love an op shop?
Love a get-together and a bit of a singalong?
If you're now sitting up and taking notice, looking for the boxes to tick, make sure you keep a weekend morning free later this month for one of the most fun few hours you can spend with a bunch of strangers without blowing a fortune or needing a shower afterwards.
Joanne O'Callaghan has been running op shop tours for seven years now and knows all the best outlets across Melbourne. Being a thespian with a strong background in musical theatre, she found a bit of cabaret and the odd singalong kept shoppers entertained as they were bussed between venues.
As true devotees will know, much of the op shop attraction lies in the treasure hunt – and in sharing your latest bargain discovery with others. Jo puts this to good use, quickly forming a bus-team bond en route.
Then there's the comedy.
With spirits still high from finding a $6 mirror ball and not one but TWO old-fashioned cassette players at South Melbourne's Sacred Heart Mission shop, Jen Carnovale picked just the right mood as she recounted her memories of working in retail. Gifted with wonderful timing and a lovely line in accents, it was great promo for her show at Trades Hall, Give Us A Smile (it's on 'til April 5).
Next stop was St Kilda (Country Road pure wool cardigan; $4), where Jen left us and a drop-dead gorgeous six-foot glamazon joined the fray. Who else but Dolly Diamond, The Real Queen of Moomba, who opened our eyes to some interesting alternative lyrics to Love is in the Air and Que Sera.
Dolly’s entertainment didn’t end there; she acted as trailblazer for the last two stops in Bentleigh, leading the way with Glomesh discoveries and a sharp eye for evening gloves and handbags. Gorgeous hats ($3) and a silk jumper ($2) were snapped up, along with jewellery, books, retro backgammon sets and an original 1950s polyester house dress in orange and white ($5).
Jo is picky about the shops she chooses, preferring ones that are genuinely non-profit. “They not only offer a way to reuse and recycle, but they help create communities by offering chances to volunteer and distribute the proceeds where it’s most needed,” she says.
Each year she picks a new area to cover, offering something new to her many return customers. And I didn’t smell a mothball all day.
Warning: Jo stops for no-one. Don’t be late and BYO water and snacks.
Suitable for 13+
Op Shop Tours Australia presents
Op Shop Tour
Venue: A bus! Meet outside the Town Hall
Dates: April 11, 12, 18, 19, 2015
Duration: 240 minutes
Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au | www.opshoptours.com.au
Part of the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival