And nothing beats an actual map
Listed below are the key resources I used for the Dynamic Programming that helped me get to op shops all over Victoria.
However if you take a last minute detour ... say, maybe down a long dusty road you can't see the end of but you get the feeling that it should eventually connect to where you're going ... but after a while you doubt yourself and you don't have internet coverage and your GPS is just ... unresponsive, well, nothing beats an actual paper map.
They don't run out of charge or overheat or drop out.
You only have to know the town you just left and you'll work it out.
OP SHOP GUIDE TO VICTORIA
by Kelly Lainson
What an extraordinary resource.
This book was my bible and it's hard to comprehend what an incredible, painstaking and dedicated job Kelly did pulling this information together. This was published in 2010 and remember the internet back then was not what it is now. Much of Kelly's information was sourced over the phone, by sending letters direct to councils or the op shops themselves and patiently waiting for responses by mail. I'm still blown away by what she accomplished. In just the 5 years between this guide being printed and me starting this journey, many op shops had closed and I found or came across an extra 80. Such is the nature of these shops - many come and go - which just goes to show what a feat Kelly pulled off to find 773 of them. An amazing piece of work which will be somewhat out of date now but I bet it's still a great foundation to use for such a project as this.
AUSTRALIAN OPSHOP LISTINGS
A super handy website.
Due to the nature of many op shops being run by volunteers who may not necessarily be all over the workings of the internet, not every place is listed. But if you know where you're going or even if you're already on the road, pop in the name of your next town to see what comes up.
You can even help them out with updates on new places, changed locations or recently closed op shops.
Going on an adventure of your own?
I can plan your route!
Get in touch and let me know where you are going, your starting point and your time frame and I'll suggest the op shop route that will get you there.
This is a free service for other enthusiasts.
online street directory
7-location multi-stop journey planner.
Oh how I love this website! Ok it would be great if it could take more than 7 locations (I never found a good online journey planner that could) but Where Is is my go-to once I have an idea of my general plan.
So easy to use, right down to what side of the street shops are on (don't underestimate that detail if you want to fit in 20 city op shops in one day).
Pick your starting point and add 6 op shops you want to get to. It will give you the route and you can reshuffle the order of the addresses around till you find the optimal order of play.
Tip: the closest op shop might not be the first one open, so keep an eye on shop hours.
Once you have your order - and you might do several maps since you can only do 7 locations at a time - send a list of full addresses to your smartphone. Then all you have to do is click each address which will link to your phone's GPS and voila, off you go.
It's all in the planning; put the time into this and you'll get more hours on the road.
This photo shows how to get to St James Op Shop, Salvos, MS Malvern, Mecwacare Malvern Op Shop, Vinnies, Caulfield East Opportunity Shop and East Malvern Salvos Thrift Shop.
You can even see what you can do by foot and when it's worth moving the car.
PEN & PAPER
Lists, notepads, maps
I used maps a lot to get a sense of what section of Victoria I wanted to explore next and how to fill in the gaps.
As I went along I did use the spaces that were purposefully included in the Op Shop Guide (oh my gosh that bible is with the Museum now and most notes were written hastily, book balanced on knee, while starting the car - if I only knew where it would end up I would have taken more care with my handwriting yikes).
I also had a notepad where after each trip I would write up a basic summary of the day - route, number of op shops, blankets found etc. In hindsight this has been a really handy resource and if you have a town you are going to you're welcome to shoot me a message and I'll let you know the op shop route I took around there. Because if there's a town anywhere in Victoria with an op shop, I've been there (and I wrote it down!).