Lifeline experience

THE thought of op shops may often inspire mental images of a dusty, dingy little store cluttered with items, meant to cater for the less fortunate, but Lifeline chief executive Dawn Gilbert does not believe this has to be the case.

Lifeline’s Morwell store has undergone a makeover, and the store is now laid out in boutique style, aimed at creating an “experience” for shoppers.

“We want to make our stores look nice, so even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can still come in and buy something for cheap,” Ms Gilbert said.

“Op shops don’t have to look horrible; it can be a lovely experience.”

Ms Gilbert has plans to transform the Lifeline Morwell store, on the corner of Church and Fleming streets, which is also the warehouse for the seven op shops it has across Gippsland, run by more than 100 volunteers.

Her vision for the store is to be a place where people can find nice clothing, books and furniture, and to expand it into a nursery and cafe.

“It’s a work in progress; retail stores sell very cheap clothes now, and we can’t compete,” she said.

“What we do is sell goods that are different or unique, labels, and furniture; we’re not a traditional op shop.”

Ms Gilbert said the Morwell store had plenty of treasures on offer, with good quality items ranging from fur coats to Prada handbags.

But for those who are less well off, Lifeline’s George Street clearance store in Morwell also has real bargains.

“The George Street store is open specifically for people who want to buy things, but are a bit more hard-done by,” she said.

“You can buy a whole outfit there for $25 or less.”

Proceeds from the Lifeline op shops are channeled towards supporting its 24-hour telephone counselling line, on 13 11 14