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HomeRegularSponsoredOp for Change calls for buyers, volunteers

Op for Change calls for buyers, volunteers

A trendy store that sells affordable clothing from high-end to casual and quirky wear, offers art and jewellery workshops and donates all of its profits to charity.

The description sounds like a shopaholic’s fever dream, but this store exists and operates right on Pittwater Road in Manly.

It’s quickly become a staple of the Northern Beaches community, but with an influx of donations and a stagnant number of volunteers this store, which has given so much, may need some help back.

Mel Burgess opened Op for Change two years ago after a post-COVID cleanout left her with a surplus of clothes.

“I had nowhere to take any of my donations, which all happened to be really good at the time. And I just had this idea about some in-between work, and I just thought, what if I opened a shop?”

“And then the next logical step for me felt like saying, what if I then took all the profits that we make, and we donate them back to the community and to our local charities.”

Since the idea sparked, Mel has donated 100 per cent of the store’s profits to charities.

The first was LocalKind, who were presented with a $10,000 donation.

Another recipient has been Mowana Safe Space.President Mel Kypri describing the reaching effects of the donations.

“Op for Change brings a change in opportunity for Mowana Northern Beaches Safe Space. With these funds, Mowana can extend its reach and impact within our community.”

“What if I then took all the profits that we make, and we donate them back to the community and to our local charities.”

Avalon Youth Club is another charity that provides free counselling, mentoring, events and workshops to young people aged 12-24.

Nelly Martin who is in charge of Community Engagement for the charity says it’s donations like these that keep the organisation afloat.

“The Hub is only made possible through generous donations like Op for Change, their donation allows the Hub to be an important fixture in the community that can continually support young people and their needs,” Nelly said.

CEO of the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter Narelle Hand shared Avalon Youth Club’s gratitude, acknowledging the crucial role these donations play.

“Their exceptional generosity in 2023 enabled us to run our Wellness Program, which supports women affected by domestic violence by providing them with educational opportunities and skills that assist in their healing journey. We are immensely grateful for their support.”

Op for Change presentation evening hosted by Miranda Fair raised $15,000 for the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter.

Op for Change also sends a monthly donation to Monika’s Dog Rescue, acts as the Northern Beaches hub for Whirl Recycling and sends items to the Remote OP Shop Project – a network of indigenous OP shops around the country that helps provide work and affordable goods for their residents.

Mel’s donation of not just money but her time has provided thousands of dollars worth of financial stimulation to these organisations – helping the community.

But this helping hand is not a solo act.

There are volunteers on board who are equally as passionate about the project, such as Mel’s ride-or-die Gini Scott who has been around since day one.

“She rang me up for a coffee one day and said, I want to show you something. She opened the door with these newspapers over the wall and told me she was going to start an op shop. And I just said, Great, I’m on board.

Mel and Gini standing behind the counter of their store.

Compassion seems to run in the Burgess family as her husband Ian who is recently retired from medicine, and daughter Savanna who works in disabled care, also help run the store.

“I do the merchandising. So I changed the mannequins that sit in the front of the windows with the newest stuff that we’ve got, the newest donations and the nicest pieces. I also do the social media,” Savanna said.

“I think my favourite thing about the store is that it has so much of my mum in it.

“I am so proud of her. I think she’s so amazing. She donates so much of her time, energy, everything to get this shop running day to day.”

The store not only offers a variety of pre-loved products for affordable prices but it’s presented with a unique blend of rustic and boutique aesthetics with a variety of quirky products and services.

Customers can pick up a blind date with a book, with ideas circulating of a monthly book club, there are costume rentals donated by the store’s ambassador Miranda Fair and to feel fancy just takes walking into the store’s new high-end extension, which still won’t break the bank.

Blind date with a book display

An online shopping experience has also been launched thanks to the help of savvy Savanna making shopping at the store not just cheap, but more convenient than ever.

“We’ve just launched our new website, which features all the new designer items and all the really special pieces that we want to feature so that people can go online and buy those and don’t have to come into the store.”

However, people from everywhere are encouraged to come visit, even if it’s just for a chat.

“People come in with literally bags laden with groceries, and we’ll just sit down on the sofa and just sit and chat for a while. They’ll have a look around, they might not buy anything, they’ll go out.

“We meet people that have travelled halfway over Sydney to come to our shop, which is awesome,” Gini said.

“I think a lot of people love the fact that they feel like they have their own community op shop, we’ve had a lot of support,” Mel added.

The store’s new high end extension.

It seems the store does radiate a contagious case of generosity with customers hosting workshops in favour of the community.

Local artist Toni Brown provided a guided art drawing workshop with an OP shop theme to it, while another customer created Mel Stone an upcycled jewellery workshop with all the funds getting donated to the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter.

Unfortunately, all this community involvement can be too overwhelming to cope with.

“So what we need right now is people to come in and shop and relieve us, relieve us of some of the stock.”

The store has since had to put a halt on donations due to an influx of products and a lack of volunteers, which has made running the not-for-profit a bit of a struggle.

“The community has given us so many amazing things that every bag we opened was a treasure trove, but unfortunately, our little store is just groaning at the seams,” Mel said.

“So what we need right now is people to come in and shop and relieve us, relieve us of some of the stock.

“What we’d also love is some volunteers, if you’ve got some spare time once a week or even every few weeks, we’d love to have you.”


You can also shop online now !  Visit https://www.opforchange.org/


This article was written as part of a prize Op for Shop won in the Christmas Window Decorating competition, run by Northern Beaches Council.  


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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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