What were your first impressions of the shop and neighbourhood?
The old op shop was called Revelation Op Shop and was musty, lacking light, and very small. The New MustardSeed Op Shop was presented as a blank canvas and moved around the block to the Harris Uniting Community Centre. We acquired rooms in the historic manse of the original Presbyterian Church – with a foundation stone laid by Miss Harris in 1886. The name change to MustardSeed Op Shop provides opportunity to share a welcome and invitation to the church. The neighbourhood has a wonderful homey feel and the centre is located on the green at the end of Quarry Street, Ultimo, inviting people to sit and eat lunch outdoors. Jazz on the weekends and young families strolling with their children create the atmosphere. Quotes from the old times are engraved in sandstone on the paved walkways.
What has surprised you most over the past month or so?
As Manager of the op shop, I was given free artistic licence to bring fresh retail ideas and mix and change merchandising options. Freedom of expression of my spiritual beliefs is welcomed, community involvement draws in volunteers and donations beyond my imagination, and my American retail merchandising experience is trusted. And the outcome is phenomenal!
Can you tell us a little about your team?
My team is heaven sent! All come as volunteers from the Uniting Church (elders, members, and even the minister David Gore), the Harris Community Centre, the NSW Housing residents and locals. We are screening and forming rotating shifts. My Op Shop Angel Semy Chae enables the MustardSeed shop to be open seven days a week, from 11am to 4pm daily. Energy, friendliness, and “let’s have fun” are contagious.
What kinds of things are available from the shop?
Our pricing varies to suit the customer and the ideal is to keep the merchandise flowing out the door! Every time a repeat customer comes he or she will experience innovative wares placement, complete clothing displays and new seasonal stock. We mix it up with emphasis on clothing for men, women and children and housewares to camping gear, books to music CDs are in abundance. European, American and Australian designer clothing, belts and shoes are gems for the finding. Porcelain and lace from Germany, Norway and England are there for the discerning eye. Many immigrants returning home donate all their cherished items to us.
What are your hopes and plans for the shop?
A Springtime Grand Opening is being planned for the op shop incorporating the centre, church and community restaurants, with tours of the building, a sizzle and samplers, jazz quartet, meet ups and picnic enjoyment.
Who benefits from sales proceeds?
Profits go to the MustardSeed Uniting Church, helping with staff expenses, church maintenance and repairs to maintain its outreach. The Harris Community Centre also benefits in rent and pedestrian flow, and we will spread the word of classes offered such as English as a Second Language, Tai-Chi, Yoga, children’s play groups and event room rentals, to continue the dedicated work of creating community and multicultural unity.