In our local village (can you call it that? Village sounds so quaint England, not coastal / hinterland Australia. Anyway, it’s not a town, so village will suffice) we have an Op Shop which raises money for our longtime-coming public swimming pool, as well as a couple of shops that sell all things vintage and secondhand – furniture, clothes, kitchen wear, lamps, crockery, bits and pieces. Not bad for a small place.
There’s also a pub, a chemist, two doctor’s surgeries, two butchers, a baker, a rural supplies store, two small grocery stores, two cafes, three, yes three real estate agents, two mechanic’s workshops, a hairdressers / beauty salon, two pre-schools and a primary school. Gee, that makes it sound like a thriving metropolis, which it most definitely is not.
Anyway, I digress. Back to all things vintage. Browsing the racks of ‘vintage’, recycled and pre-loved clothes at the Vintage shop (Vintage Magnolia) on Monday, I came across a little green sundress. $20. Not bad. I slipped it on, comfortable and pretty and I reasoned that I only have one other summer dress and dresses are so easy, and practical, and cool in the hot summer. Done. Very happy with my purchase. The next day I wore the dress to take The Kid to Kindermusik. I usually bump into Bec C there as she takes her No.2 for his lesson immediately after ours. Giving me the once over, Bec C says, “nice dress, where’d you get it?” Excitedly (and simultaneously nervously, as I could see the squint in her eye – did it look terrible on me?) I tell her about my bargain.
Her grin broke out into a throw-your-head-back kind of laugh as she told me she’d donated it to the Op Shop. Obviously Michelle, who owns Vintage Magnolia had bought it from the Op Shop, let’s say for about $5 and then sold it to me for $20. When all along, Bec C could have just given it to me for free had she known how much I’d like it.
Rather than being annoyed though, I rationalised that I’d indirectly supported the fund-raising effort for our pool, as had Bec C AND I’d contributed financially to one of our small businesses. Cheers all ‘round. And a little window into the economy of our local community. Although of course it does prove that the dress is by no means ‘vintage’, it’s just a hand-me-down, even though very much ‘pre-loved’. Not quite as romantic though.
To round things off nicely, in our most recent edition of Across the Fence, our local community newsletter, there is a poem by Les Murray, our resident poet (yes, THE Les Murray – I know, only the best around here… and coincidentally, Les Murray was born in what was our local hospital which is now the Op Shop to which the infamous dress was initially donated). The poem is about the shop in which I bought Bec C’s dress, and its’ neighbouring retail outlet. Enjoy (and thank you to Les Murray).
The Backroad Collections
Verandah shops with history up roads like dry-gully bends proffer gouts of laundered colour out into their gala weekends,
recycled fashion displayed under bullnose eves, down corridors, cerise, magenta, nubbled teal, lilac overalls that were a steal,
yellow bordure and buttony rib pouched swimsuits, cretonne ad lib in front of blush-crimson sleeves. Craft collections carry off sheaves,
tie dye, mai tai, taupe lingeries- and cattle who haven’t yet entered any building wander, contented, munching under their last trees
till a blowsy gold-ginger horizon stacked up out of the day’s talk Glorifies and buries the sun. A nude moon burns the newsprint version