We Strike Out


I love op shops. I have ever since I picked up my first trench coat in Toowoomba. It was the late 80’s – trench coats were big news, even more-so when Dick Tracy hit the cinemas.

So I’m thrilled to be able to introduce my kids to them. Op shops, that is. Not trench coats. And I’m pleased to say the bargain gene has not skipped a generation with my little guys.

“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!” came the cry from Miss10. She’d discovered a pair of flippers. With all the activity in the pool this week, they were a perfect find.

As was Master9’s chess set.

But of course, not every find was as stellar.

“Can I have this?” asked Miss4. She was holding up a children’s book covered in a sort of fur. It looked like someone unskilled in the process of preparing a hide had glued on a rabbit pelt.

‘No!’ my head was screaming, even as I handed her the coin to take to the counter. We’d told the kids they could have anything they wanted. In any case, I figured I could throw it out tonight while she was asleep.

In the end, everyone got what they wanted. Except for Miss2…

“Mine!” she cried. “Dis! Dis! Mine!”

Of all the things on offer in the shop, she’d spied a bowling ball.

“I can do you a nice deal on that,” said the nice lady behind the counter.

I’m sure she could, in a town about an hour from the nearest bowling alley.

I assured her it wouldn’t be necessary, and directed Miss2’s attention to a Wiggle’s guitar.

“We’re open tomorrow if you change your mind,” said the lady, nodding towards the bowling ball and eliciting yelps of excitement from the kids.

“Can we come back tomorrow?” they chorused.

“Thanks,” I smiled at the lady in a way I hoped said, ‘please stop talking.’

So, of course, we had to go the next day. And the day after. I’m beginning to wonder if, years from now, my kids will be on Hoarders retelling this holiday as the catalyst for their love of collecting chipped saucers and broken toys.

On day two my wife raced ahead of us and cleverly covered the bowling ball with a towel, but our luck ran out on day three. Mind you, our luck was pushed.

“It’s still here,” said the lady cheerfully when we stepped through the door.

I looked at her blankly.

“Your bowling ball,” she grinned, pointing to where it had suddenly been given pride of place in the shop.

“BALL!” yelled Miss2 when she saw it, her hands stretched out like she was welcoming an old friend into her arms. “Mine!”

“She loves it,” smiled the lady. “I’ll get you a bag.”

So we bought my youngest daughter her first bowling ball ($5). Who knows, this could be the beginning of something beautiful.

Or something broken. Or a lot of things broken.

Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I think my love of op shops is set to continue through to the next generation, with Tracey’s love of having garage sales to rid the house of junk soon to follow.

As a punishment reward I let her carry drag it home by herself.

Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his Big Family Little Income Facebook Page

 ”Raising a family on little more than laughs.”

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