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Thrift Shopping PSA

by Seraphina Leroy

As thrift shopping becomes more relevant in today's fashion trends, it's important to keep in mind the benefits, as well as the downsides, of secondhand buying. In the past, thrift shopping was often judged by anyone in the middle or upper class. Shopping at places like Goodwill or The Salvation Army was viewed as an activity “for poor people.” Over time, and especially recently, as prices at conventional stores grow, it is becoming more popular for those who are economically comfortable to shop at second hand stores. Thrift stores are good for the environment, cheaper, and hold more unique clothing. However, even with these benefits, thrifters have to be aware that gentrification is rapidly increasing in thrift stores as well.

Thrifting is a cheaper alternative to commercial stores and more sustainable than fast fashion - cheap, trendy clothing that lifts ideas from other designers. The most important benefit of thrift shopping is that it is environmentally friendly. When someone buys from a thrift store, they are basically saving that item from going straight to a landfill. Thrifting slows demand for commercial clothing - ultimately bettering the environment and contributing to the end of fast fashion. Luckily, many Gen-Zers have committed themselves to quit buying from fast fashion stores, and have started switching over to buying solely second hand or sustainable clothing. Today, arts schools have incorporated second hand shopping and recycling into their curriculum, which raises awareness to their student bodies. Another good reason to thrift is simply that everyone likes to maximize the amount of value for the money they have to spend. The price point and uniqueness of the clothes fills a niche for a constant flow of new styles. Thrift stores are home to many unique and vintage articles of clothing that can brighten up and expand a wardrobe.

Outside of the many benefits to second hand purchases, it's important to recognize how thrift stores over time have become gentrified, which essentially means that along with a rise of new thrifters, particularly higher income shoppers, comes a rise in the prices at thrift stores. The big influx of thrift shoppers came mostly from social media, where the fashion savvy and environmentally conscious share their ideas through various social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. This has changed the dynamic between thrifting and its intended audience. Where high-income shoppers view thrifting as a fun activity, low-income shoppers view thrift shopping as a necessity. What seems like a small price rise to those in comfortable financial situations may actually be an increase that creates a barrier blocking necessities for the less fortunate. Some thrift store shoppers will purchase mass amounts of clothing and proceed to resell them for more money than its original cost online. This is taking away from the very select amount of clothes that those who are reliant on thrifting have.

Thrift stores are a positive alternative to shopping at big, corporate, fast fashion stores. Between of its affordability, fashion versatility, and more importantly, its environmental benefits, thrifting should become the most dominant form of shopping for clothes. Yes, shoppers should be conscious of others who rely on thrift stores as a means of survival, but this doesn't mean consumers should resort to fast fashion for a cheaper option. Thrifting should be done in moderation, and in consideration of personal monetary privileges that others may not possess.


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