This was my mum, who came to visit on the weekend. We were heading to the nearest town, and she'd suggested a trip to the opportunity shop for this purchase.
"No problem," I said. "You want potholders, the second op shop will have them."
"The second op shop?"
"The second op shop."
Despite there being very little in the town nearest Farmette, there are two op shops. You may wonder how a small town can sustain two op shops when it can't sustain a pizza joint or a single "fashion retail outlet". The answer is economics: the op shops aren't in competition. With each other, or anything else.
One, run by the hospital for fund-raising, is fancy. I've seen everything from vintage furs to Adirondack chairs in the window. It's great if you're looking for something fun and frivolous, a "find" that you can show off to your friends. When my jeans turned to rags, I bought two new pairs there for $7 (pitched as a double-denim deal). It has a little coffee shop built-in and ex-garden furniture on the street if you'd like to take your coffee outside.
The other, run by the local Lionesses' Club, is a proper, old-school op shop: the kind of place in which a Young Person renting their first share house could find everything they need to fit out their new life for next to nothing. I buy my linen and towels there, and kitchen utensils. They have an entire section for dressups in a shed between the electrical goods (all marked Purchase At Your Own Risk) and menswear. I bought my spare bed there for $30.
We visited both stores. My mum bought a salmon-pink quilted handbag at the first and her potholders (in fact, the entire inventory of potholders—six or so) at the second.
As usual, I entered the second op shop with nothing in mind to buy. But they have a good sleepwear section right next to the potholder department, and I needed pyjama pants (my last pair were procured in the same store's men's sleepwear section maybe six years ago). I found some: leopard-print. But outside, in the muddle of sheds, I came across two other gems.
A wide-mouthed thermos, for making yoghurt. I have a thermos, but its seal is broken and it's a tall one, for tea, which isn't great for yoghurt-making. Given that I now have a fully functioning organic dairy nearby selling unhomogenised milk in two-litre bottles for $4.90, this thermos was a bit of a find. Home-made yoghurt (and labna) return to the menu. Hooray!
The other thing? Flippers. I can't say I marched into the op shop intending to pick up flippers, but coincidentally, I'm about to go on what amounts to a week-long snorkelling holiday. I'm booked to stay at a cattle station and intend to swim on the reef every day. I'd been focused on finding a snorkel and goggles, but when I spotted these flippers—the rights size and everything—I couldn't resist.
Mysteriously, each item was $2. At the second op shop, apparently, all proclivities are deemed equal.