Ice creams, a sausage sizzle and bargains greeted customers at the March Community Day to celebrate the opening of the new Uniting Ballarat op shop.
The shop has moved from its previous home near the Ballarat Central Uniting Church to a building in Delacombe, a suburb of Ballarat. It offers easier parking and a bigger purpose-designed interior for stock that includes clothing, toys, books and furniture.
For Ballarat Central UC members David Pratt and Albert Peart, who attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, the new shop recalls a journey of more than half a century of memories. Both were members of the original Parish Mission committee that first discussed outreach work the church could provide for the local community. “Looking back to the days we used to sell oranges to raise money for our Lifeline services to where we are now, it’s terrific!” Mr Peart said.
Mr Pratt and Mr Peart have both served as chair of the Ballarat Lifeline board. Mr Pratt also served as chair of UnitingCare Ballarat from 2008-2010.
“The social involvement of the Ballarat church started in the late 1960s, even before the formation of the Uniting Church,” Mr Pratt said.
In 1971 the Parish Mission launched Lifeline Ballarat which to this day continues to provide crisis support and suicide prevention services to the community.
“Following this we opened our first Ballarat op shop in 1974,” Mr Pratt added.
The newest op shop continues the tradition of serving the local community with proceeds from sales going back into Uniting programs, including BreezeWay Meals Program, Meals for Change and Lifeline Ballarat.
While parts of the transition have been challenging, volunteer and ribbon cutter Heather said she is pleased to be involved in the new shop.
“It’s meant a change in routine for some of us,” she said.
“But at the end of the day it’s great to feel you’re volunteering in an environment that helps supports people.
Customers at the Community Day enjoyed the new facilities, saying it was easy to shop with the family because there was something to interest everyone.
Local op shopper Mandy was the shop’s first customer and said she liked the addition of the shop to the Delacombe area.
“It’s so spacious and well laid out,” she said.
“It’s really nice to have a new shop in Delacombe. I love to op shop, and knowing that I’m giving back to the community by doing that, it’s a great feeling.”