I learned a new phrase this week to add to my ever-growing Aussie vocabulary:
Op Shop.

Growing up in Canada (and particularly when hanging out with my treasure-hunting mom), I am used to places known as thrift stores, charity shops, or second-hand stores. Here in Australia, the places where used donated items are sold to raise money for charity organisations are called Op Shops – which stands for Opportunity Shops.

Even when my mom came to visit last year, we went into a “Vinnies”
(that we know by their full name “St. Vincent de Paul” in Canada).

Vinnies in Cronulla, NSW

Vinnies in Cronulla, NSW

…I think my mom would like this definition from Urban 🙂



When watching the news this week, I learned that it is National Op Shop Week, a volunteer charity initiative from ‘Do Something Near You‘ – and yes, there’s even a Twitter account for raising awareness:

Did you know…? Each year in Australia, 2 billion donated items are processed and sorted by charities. If you have been following my blog, you’ll know I love research 🙂 So here are some survey results I found (click on the image to learn more):

So in honour of “op shop week,”
here is a recent treasure hunting success story from my mom:

Just three days before Tracy’s Ph.D defense, I was browsing with my mom, sister, and niece in the SOS “Society of Organized Societies” a second-hand store in Parksville, BC and I found myself in the art and framed prints section. I gravitated to a numbered, framed watercolour print titled “U of A Arts Bldg.”

Wow, I thought, the University of Alberta Arts Building! I had previously been there with Tracy on a visit to Edmonton and our feet had walked up those very steps of the Arts Bldg. I loved the watercolours and noted that the print by an artist “J Heine” was numbered 137/450. I had no knowledge of the artist but loved the painting. With a nudge from my sister, hinting that I could gift it to Tracy, I purchased it for a mere $14.99!

Coming home I Googled the artist, J Heine, curious to find out more about him and his work. He was listed in the Mountain Galleries in Alberta  (here and here). He is quite famous! I further investigated by emailing the Mountain Galleries inquiring if this watercolour was his work and received a resounding yes, and that this very piece of art had been gifted to a retired staff member of the University of Alberta!  What a find!

To personalise the piece for our “Dr. Tracy Durksen,” I had a small brushed-silver plate engraved and affixed to the bottom of the glass as a congratulations on her successful Ph.D. journey.

One never knows what treasures can be found and how the perfect gift can have such an interesting story!

Thank you mom, for such a perfect gift. I love it! xoxo

For other charity information,
check out my charity spotlight page.