AMUSING: Lifeline Bokarina store manager Shelley Chick specialises in popular culture and music.
AMUSING: Lifeline Bokarina store manager Shelley Chick specialises in popular culture and music. Meghan Kidd

Ever wonder if the volunteers at op shops nab the good finds first?

LIFELINE Bokarina store manager Shelley Chick says if you walk into an op shop and don’t see anything “interesting or quirky”, then chances are the staff have nabbed it first.

But at Lifeline, and particularly her location on the Coast, she said they have a duty to provide customers and all items have to be on the shelves for at least 24 hours before any staff can purchase.

“When someone donates an item to us, we’re actually custodians of that item,” she said.

“(People) are donating good things and often that may be in tragic circumstances.

“It may be 12 months after their daughter has died in a car accident and they’ve finally had the courage to pack up the room.

“When it comes here we have an obligation to treat the item with respect, and to put it out for sale to the general public.”

Shelley said having been in op shops since she was a kid, you could quickly tell if staff were picking off the items first.

“All op shops get interesting items, so if you walk into one and there’s nothing unusual, fantastic or interesting, it’s been picked off by staff.”

Lifeline has a strict rule that all products have to be on shelf for at least 24 hours before staff can purchase.

“I might completely ban the item from being bought, because it’s such an unusual item that I want to be in the shop to attract attention and bring back a buyer, to get that item that they buy and say, ‘Oh my God where did you get that?’.”

Shelly said Lifeline goes above and beyond to make sure their stores on the Coast are stocked with interesting finds and staff who know what they are dealing with.

For her, it’s music and popular culture.

The local jokes that when she moved interstate, her belongings fit in the boot of her car. But her record collection had to be shipped in.

To say the store manager is a record buff is an understatement, but the heavy metal lover spins all her knowledge into the charity store.

Each Lifeline on the coast has a niche market – Maroochydore has bridal, Coolum is designer and Cooroy is linen and lace.

“I think that’s what makes them clever, is they try to put people in each shop that has an expertise,” Shelley said.

“Shops become known for it and they will feed stock in that area into that store, so it’s handled by someone that knows what they’re dealing with.”

With more than 70 staff at the Bokarina store, Shelley said many hands went into helping in its success, including sorters at the Kunda Park store, followed by maintenance on furniture, book sorters, jewellery valuers and staff who tested the hundreds of Playstation consoles that came into the store.

On the heels of the success of the Lifeline Bookfest at the Lake Kawana Community Centre, Shelley said the money raised went to programs.

“Having something like the Bookfest allows us to get that massive cash injection that we can then put into a program,” she said.

“The idea that an op shop is there to have stuff to give away is 40 years old, it’s to raise money for the charity, and to provide for a massively eclectic market from people who want something cheap, to people who want to recycle.”