This week we are celebrating the first birthday of our Op Shop in the small country town of Ouyen (OH-YEN). Last year we planned a big community event to announce that our little shop was open for trade. It was a great day of fun and bargains and engagement with other service groups as we tried to demonstrate that our Op Shops are more than just places to buy second hand goods. We believe they are places for community, for friendship and for working towards providing good quality items at cheap prices, and giving things a second chance at life before heading to landfill. I wrote a post about the experience last year if you’d like to read more about it (Opening a Shop in Ouyen).
While our shop had to close for a couple of months due to the Covid-19 restrictions it has reopened with enthusiasm and for each month of trading they have performed over budget. What I love about this shop, compared to the others in our network, is that because it is a more remote community they appreciate items that we might take for granted in the larger towns.
Ouyen is a farming town of only 1000 residents, but it caters to the needs of the many, many outlying townships. Some of our volunteers don’t live in Ouyen, but travel 40kms to come and work in our shop.
We get a large number of electrical items donated – so many things like pedestal fans, kitchen appliances, hair dryers, tv’s and power tools. We do the appropriate safety checks before sending them out for sale but they aren’t our biggest sellers in our op shops ‘in town’. We can’t keep them on the shelves out at Ouyen though, and the reason for this is relatively simple.
In Mildura, we have a number of discount department stores that already sell these types of things for very low prices. Why would our shoppers buy a fan for $15 from us when they can buy a brand new one from K-Mart or Bunnings for that price or lower? But in Ouyen, it would require the 1 hour drive into Mildura to have access to these kinds of items and so when they find them in our shop, even if they are second hand, they get snapped up.
We travelled to Ouyen this morning to be a part of the start of a weeklong sale celebrating 12months of operating and the vibe from the customers and staff was all we could hope for, and more. While bargains were being found there were great interactions and gratitude for what our shop offers the community as a whole.
It was so heartwarming to hear the positive words offered from customers and volunteers and so reassuring to know that we made the right choice last year to provide this service, despite the obstacles we needed to face (and continue to wrestle with) to make it happen. We believe, firmly, that this is course God wants us to take and so we have focused on that fact when others thought that it wasn’t worth the effort.
It reminds me of the words from the Bible, found in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 58. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
We believe that the many people who have been working towards opening and operating our Op Shop in Ouyen have been giving themselves fully to this fantastic project and we believe we will be able to build upon this fine work done and reap a harvest for God and His kingdom as a result. And maybe pick up some bargain items along the way.