Our propensity to gather stuff, wherever we go, is pretty astounding. As mentioned previously, we did ship a container over, but still needed to get a few odds and ends. Well, a few years down the line and we are bursting at the cliched seams with stuff. How did this happen? It’s not like we set out to cram our space with a random collection of odds and ends, but somehow the cupboards are full and the garage can take about all it can contain and still be useful.
So over these last summer holidays, with it being the start of a new year and all that, I thought it would be a good time to start doing a bit of a cleanout. I started with clothing – this seemed to be the easiest place to start as there were more than a few items in our cupboard that needed getting rid of. Fortunately, we have some amazing Opportunity Shops (aka Op Shops) here in NZ and they take in anything from old clothing that is still in reasonable condition, to kitchenware, furniture, books and any other knickknacks one may find cluttering up one’s home. I remember Charity Shops from my stay in the UK, a lifetime ago now. Handy places to pick up this and that at a real bargain – with slogans like “new to you,” they turn unwanted surplus into cash for good causes like the Salvation Army, St Johns or SPCA, to name a few. I remember thinking that these sorts of shops would go down well in SA. But perhaps South African’s are not as bitten by the consumerism bug as those in first world countries.
Anyway, back to my story. To my great surprise, I discovered that the Op Shops in our little town where all suddenly stuffed to the hilt with unwanted things, especially clothing, and were, therefore, temporarily, not taking any donations. Especially not clothing. They had been completely overrun with, well, stuff! At first, I thought that this might be because everyone seemed to have had the same marvellous idea as I – that January seemed like a good time to declutter. However, I was chatting about this to a very good Kiwi friend of mine and she started telling me about Marie Kondo. Marie what? I had never heard of the woman who seems to be taking the decluttering world by storm. What had I missed? I was determined to find out and hit google hard. Ah ha! So, perhaps this is the reason why the good ol’ Op Shops are currently buried under piles of unwanted goods!
Where did that leave me and my boot full of bags of clothing and boxes of kitchen ware. Well, frankly, it left me driving around for a couple of weeks with said stuff in said car boot until I could find an op shop that would be happy to lighten my load. A lesson in patience on my part with the added benefit of much relief once I had offloaded the last bag.
My friend (same lovely person I mentioned earlier), suggested that now might actually be a good time to do some op shopping ourselves, as the quality of goods they are retailing at the moment might be higher than usual as people are not just getting rid of well-used things, but also relatively new things that they have found does not bring them, um, “joy”, after all, and so therefore one could maybe find little gems that might meet a need. But wait. The whole point of the exercise was to declutter, not to reclutter with someone else’s clutter. So, for the time being, besides popping past to drop off a box of books or something, I will try not to spend too much time browsing their wares, just in case I come away with something I really don’t need. Although I did find a great pair of name brand jeans, in next to perfect condition, in my size, for a tenner, that I am very pleased with indeed…
Bits and bobs
While we are in the very privileged position of being able to declutter, many South Africans arrive in NZ with precious little. So perhaps all those people riding the Marie Kondo wave (if that what it is) may have just paved a little bit of the way for immigrants to cheaply furnish a home and bulk up a wardrobe.
If one doesn’t mind an eclectic mix of this and that, then I reckon Op Shops can be helpful when trying to make ends-meet on a shoestring budget. Not only that, but if one is inclined to want to do your bit for the environment (probably more a first world than third world concern) they can be the way to go. Whether its, clothes, fitting out a kitchen or finding bits of furniture to fill a home, these volunteer-run organisations are fabulous. Google Op Shops in your area.
Don’t forget the Facebook groups for South Africans. Maybe you can find what you need there or on Neighbourly. And remember to pay-it-forward when you have found your feet again.
Then there is also Save Mart, a huge recycle shop that I have yet to brave. I have friends that have been and come back with some good deals – this may be helpful as it is tough to see your hard-saved Rands shrivel next to the mighty NZ dollar. Learning tips and tricks to make them stretch is something I could have done with when we first arrived and the months thereafter.
Remember to shop the sales. Half price sales often on a Thursday at Farmers (get onto their mailing list for upfront notice of their specials) – I have touched on this before but perhaps it warrants another mention? I have also seen more than a few South African’s shopping at Cracker Jacks, formerly known as The Clearance Shed, and not without good reason.