regional variations: "thrift store", "charity store" "second hand store" "oxfam shop" etc
An opportunity shop is a second-hand goods store that operates usually to raise money for a charity. They are the best source of almost anything you want in the SCA. Things to keep an eye out for next time you walk past your local op-shop:
- Fabric: Curtain fabric can make some great garb! Old bed sheets can be used to make up prototype garb so you don't waste your new good fabric. Old linen bed sheets make good chemises.
- Cushions!: What everyone in the SCA needs at outdoor events, or for sitting during court.
- Feasting gear: Yes. You can get all your feasting gear from an op-shop. Two pronged forks, goblets, tankards, wooden and ceramic bowls and plates, candle stick holders or components for making oil lamps. And all for under $5! Think of all that 70s stuff that people got rid of. It's all now used in the SCA.
- Accessories: leather shoes, pouches, bags, carved wooden boxes, jewellery, belts...
Re-Enactment Op Shoppers
Re-enactors also frequently begin their gear acquisition careers in op-shops but more recently have come to consider many items to be too medjeeval to be of use. Such gear is generally acceptable for new members but are encouraged to acquire more accurate materials over time.
However, some good finds can still be found by the authenticity conscious shopper, but will require a lot more visits (and a lot more looking at period examples) to find a single good piece:
- tools that will be used at home (not events)
- long and careful shopping for that exact piece that can only be otherwise found in reproductions eg wooden hand carved bowls as mazers - not every one, but some
- items that are fairly similar to period models, and can be recrafted eg repaint a plate, add some specific decoration to a fairly plain candelabra, cut the base off the right martini glass to make a perfect conical beaker/oil lamp, etc
- raw materials eg second hand silk embroidery thread, carve a chairleg into a weaving accessory, pearl necklaces and other beads, antique boning, rags or feather filled items for stuffing pillows
- patterned fabrics that are the next best thing to reproduction fabrics - better than most fabric shops have. Don't forget to look at fabrics that are currently shaped as beadspreads or garments
- old fur coats - a more ethical alternative to new furs
- simple buckles - some are nearly identical to reproductions, others are awful
- soft leather jackets to make gloves - when you need a certain quality of leather.
Such finds will be few and far between for the serious re-enactor. But they will have the benefit of being items that you often cannot find in new goods shops. You will need to have a very clear memory of what the period examples look like in your head before going shopping, or other wise you may get confused in the blur of things that are medjeeval. Don't be afraid to walk out and come back later with a picture of the period item you think it looks like. The items you want to buy are generally so esoteric that they will be still there, and you will be happier at not having wasted your money.