Vinnies Op Shop's conference centre is getting busy for Christmas

Wendy Chapman and Sue Moore are specialists in window display configuration.
Wendy Chapman and Sue Moore are specialists in window display configuration.

With the coming of Christmas, the bustle of local Op Shops is changing from clothing sales to a community focus, and the behind the scenes work is shifting into overdrive.

At Taree’s St Vincent De Paul Society Op Shop, sales are winding down for the year, but there is no such quiet in the partnering conference centre, which is entering its busiest time of year.

Centre president Tony Pettitt said despite what people tend to expect, Op Shops are usually quieter over the Christmas period.

“Our sales around Christmas aren’t fantastic, because people are out spending their money in other places, on Christmas presents and that sort of thing,” he said.

“We get a lot of stuff donated all year round and we will probably get a bit more over the next week or two, but there are less people buying. Our conference centre is where it really gets busy.”

We are all helping the same people the best we can.

Tony Pettitt

The conference centre is an additional entity of the Vinnies organisation that works alongside the clothing stores.

This is where the funds raised through clothing sales is distributed to those who need it most, and at Christmas, this is more important than ever. 

“For us in the shop it’s fairly quiet around Christmas, we go around and make sure our donation bins are clean and there’s no rubbish around them and all that sort of stuff,” Tony explained.

“The conference centre definitely gets busy around this time of year. It’s local, so all the money from the Taree area stays in the Taree area.

“Virtually all of it supports people in this community.”

The conference centre provides a hamper donation program over the Christmas period, sorting donated food from the community into hampers, then evaluating who is in mot need of the assistance.

“It’s very important to have these sorts of services in the community, particularly in lower socioeconomic areas,” Tony added.

“There are a few Op Shops in the area, but we have a good relationship with the community and with those shops.

“Salvos, Lifeline, and us, everyone appreciates what we do, but a lot of people have the misconception that we are oppositions, competing against each other.

“That’s not it at all, we are all helping the same people the best we can.”