For the last few months my wife, Liz, has been part of revitalising an "op shop" which is part of Presbyterian Social Services. Gillian Gilchrist, the conference organiser from Flourish, has also been part of the project. Its been a huge job (but they've also had a fair bit of fun with it). The purpose of the shop is to raise money to support the great ministries of PSS. This shop in the village of Glenbrook at the bottom of the Blue Mountains had heaps of potential, but wasn't turning the profit that it should have been. Liz has helped give the shop a total makover, including a new name: "Frippery". Frippery is an old word for "cast-off clothes", or a place where old clothes were sold (and the person who sold them was a fripper!). Now it means an "elegant or showy garment" or "something showy, frivolous, or nonessential". And its a word with a great sound. Check it out on Facebook.
The revamp has been terrific and the shop is a great place focusing on vintage, retro and contemporary clothing and homewares with good design. They've also added some fair-trade home wares and tea and coffee. It's the kind of place its nice just to hang out and explore. It has already generate some good community connections and interesting conversations - and I think it has plenty of potential for more of those.
Last weekend they had a fashion parade with vintage and retro wedding dresses and other formal clothes. Liz found a few brave volunteers to take the footpath outside the shop as a cat-walk and show off some of the wares. It drew plenty of attention for the shop. My contribution was to sit at a table at the cafe up the street and enjoy breakfast and the paper - and clap as the models went past. (It was a tough job but I coped!)
The fashion parade is the kind of thing a church could adapt, maybe partnering with a local op-shop, as a way of serving a good cause and making some community connection.