OPPORTUNITY shops on the Mornington Peninsula need shoppers to rediscover the benefits of bargain hunting, and volunteers to come back on board to help out.
Both Fusion’s Thrift op shop and the RSPCA op shop in Mornington have experienced a dramatic downturn in trade and volunteers in recent times, affecting the amount of money raised for the services they provide to the community.
Fusion is a Mount Martha-based youth and community organisation that provides a housing service and runs several programs to assist socially-at-risk young people in Australia.
Its op shop in Progress Street has struggled to maintain volunteer numbers since COVID, and manager Caitlin Swanton said shoppers had been hesitant to get back out shopping.
“It’s been a whole combination of everything, including COVID, plus we opened right in the middle of the pandemic, in 2021, so we haven’t really seen what a ‘normal’ summer should be here,” Ms Swanton said.
“In that short time, we have experienced a shortage of volunteers, community hesitancy, staffing difficulties and lockdowns,” she said.
“So, we’d like to say to the community, come back and grab a bargain, because we have amazing things here, and to volunteers I’d say come and discover the rewards of being back in the community and being a fun, friendly environment.”
The RSPCA op shop in Tyabb-Mornington Road is experiencing a similar lack of volunteers and a downturn in trade.
Shop manager Jo McKenzie said the RSPCA relied heavily on donations to pay for its animal welfare programs and provide services to animals in need through its shelters and inspectorates.
As well as rehoming neglected and unwanted animals and educating the community about responsible pet ownership, the organisation works with all levels of government and industries to advocate for good animal welfare practices.
Ms McKenzie said volunteering was a fun way to make friends, be among people and give back to the community, as well as animals.
“We have some wonderful things here at out store, including high-end, low-cost linen from a regular supplier, designer clothes, bric-a-brac, and more, and everything is well priced,” she said.
“We would love to see more people shoppers and while our volunteers are amazing people, we definitely need more.
“We can’t do what we do without them”.