A villlage op shop in Hurunui District has a big heart for its community – and the planet.
Waikari Op Shop operates from the Anglican church hall in Princes Street above grandiose views of the Southern Alps. There’s nothing showy, however, about what you’ll discover inside – just plain country friendliness, free cuppas of tea or coffee, with cake on celebratory occasions, and any item you need to get through life’s challenges.
Coordinator Brenda Murchison says the team has rallied many times to dress people for important occasions such as job interviews. Parents looking for affordable school uniforms, grandparents popping in to find more suitable clothing for visiting grandchildren, and campers who have forgotten essential kitchen utensils or have finished their books, are other regulars.
“We opened in 2020 after the Covid lockdown because we saw a real need in the community for a place for people to come to for company,” says Murchison. At the same time, the church was receiving a spike in calls from the community for items of clothing.
Run entirely by volunteers, Waikari Op Shop is proud to put its proceeds back into the community. This year, monies raised have gone to a long list of community organisations and facilities, from the Menz Shed to the Community Vehicle Trust, school and foodbank.
The op shop is also running a drive to supply Pasifika women with new underwear through a Rarotonga-based organisation. Three suitcases have already left for Rarotonga and the fourth is well on its way to being filled.
It’s not just people who benefit, however.
Hurunui District Council’s Waste officer Nicole Hurinui says Hurunui op shops divert tons of waste from landfill every year. They are supported by Council’s Waste team, which provides tips, advice and connections.
“It’s important to be respectful in what you give and to realise the burden on our op shops of disposing of unsuitable items that might be torn or stained,” says Hurunui. “Drop off items during opening hours and have a chat to staff about what is needed.
“If you want to explore all of Hurunui’s op shops and make a day of it, have a look at Council’s website at the Re-use and Recycling Schemes page.”
“We want this to be a happy place for our community,” says Murchison. “Supporting your local op shop is helping your community to grow and it’s a great opportunity to meet people, have a cup of tea and a yarn, and lots of laughs.”
Hurunui Mayor and Waikari local Marie Black agrees. “The op shop is more than that – it’s a brilliant people connector, not only for those who pop in but for all our organisations working on the ground, and they have given so much back to the community.”