I remember spending weekends hopping from thrift store to thrift store looking for cheap treasures with my mom. It’s not that we were poor and couldn’t afford regular retail prices, but second-hand store shopping was like a hunt for us. We got a rush from finding those hidden gems among the piles of discarded vacation t-shirts and outdated electronics.
I also remember feeling embarrassed to tell people that I got my clothes from the thrift store. It used to be a status symbol to say your clothes came from some overpriced store at the mall. I felt less than for buying my clothes from anywhere else, but then one day I realized that my family was richer for shopping at thrift stores. While other families were spending a bulk of their money at first-hand shops, my family was spending only a sliver of money for the same thing at second-hand stores and the rest of our money was spent on vacations that we wouldn’t be able to go on if we only shopped at first-hand shops.
Now I fully embrace second-hand stores and the money it saves me. And I realize there are many benefits to shopping second-hand that most of my 20-something friends don’t understand.
It’s MUCH cheaper.
There aren’t many places where you can buy quality clothing items or unique house decor for only a few bucks. Even when first-hand stores have crazy sales, their prices still don’t get close to the prices you find at thrift stores. With all that money you save you could finally get that fancy apartment you’ve had your eyes on or put it towards paying off your student loans.
Shopping at a first-hand retail store is boring. You know exactly what to expect when you walk in, cheaply made, never-worn clothes that will probably fall apart after the first wash. However, shopping at a second hand store is thrilling! Nothing beats the excitement you feel when you find a quality, vintage item that you know is worth way more than what they are asking. Plus, when people ask about where you got your awesome, new item you usually have a great story to tell them about how you rummaged through tons of ugly cat sweaters from the 80s before you finally stumbled upon it.
It gives you a unique personal style.
All kinds of brands make it into thrift stores and consignment shops and since you have to look at each individual item while sifting through the racks, you end up finding items from brands you never would have shopped before or even old brands that went out of business. This allows you to find some unique items that your friends are guaranteed not to have. No one wants to blend in and second-hand stores help you stand out.
It puts money back into your community.
When you shop at first-hand stores, you’re just putting more money into the CEO of the company’s pocket and it is unlikely that the CEO really needs that money. But there are a lot of consignment shops out there that are family owned and the money you spend there usually goes to helping the owners feed their family and buy sports equipment for their kids. Plus most thrift stores are affiliated with some sort of charity, so you know your money is going to those who need it most so you can leave the store without feeling guilty about spending your money.
It doesn’t support outsourcing and unsatisfactory labor conditions.
Most of the popular first hand retail stores get their product from factories in poorer parts of the world and a lot of times these factories have horrible working conditions for their employees and they pay their employees next to nothing just so they can keep their prices low to keep you from shopping with their competitors. In some cases people have even died from building structures giving out while they were working inside.
It’s better for the environment.
Shopping at first-hand stores also allows for more clothing pollution down the road. A great way to slow the addition of more textile pollution is to give new life to old threads. Shopping second hand can do that and also donating clothes rather than just throwing them away. Who knows, maybe your so-last-year sweater will be someone’s new
That feeling of excitement when you find a great deal at a thrift store is wonderful. I also like the fact that my money is going back into the community, like you said. I’m going to make an effort to find more locally owned thrift stores in the future. Thanks for sharing!