You have heard all about supply chain problems creating shortages. Department store prices are sky high and discount store shelves are bare. What can you do? There is one type of shopping where the inventory is stacked, and the prices are low: Thrift shopping. Just Google “thrift store” and you will find there are more shops located close by than you ever realized and with good reason. They have bargains.
Why Thrift Shop?
Resale has become a multi-billion dollar a year industry. According to the National Association of Resale Professionals there are currently more than 25,000 resale, consignment and not-for-profit resale shops in the United States.
A transformation is taking place that has elevated thrifting from something strictly aimed at the economically disadvantaged to something rising in popularity with the socially and environmentally aware middle class. Whatever stigma that may have been associated with thrifting has all but dissipated. Fashion influencers like Emma Chamberlain have helped rebranded thrifting as a culturally popular aesthetic. Others see it as an environmentally sustainable way to find what you need at a fraction of the cost of a department store.
Who Thrift Shops?
This may surprise you, but it is your kids and grandkids who are becoming the most ardent thrifters. We understand that to you, what thrift stores stock are secondhand items, but to millennials they are considered vintage.
The next time you visit, don’t be surprised to find yourself sifting through a rack of clothes, elbow to elbow with Gen Z and Millennials. Remember, it is the Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, whose lack of interest has all but killed off shopping malls and department stores. To them, thrifting is the socially aware thing to do.
And Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is the first generation to grow up with online shopping and social media. To them, thrift stores represent sustainability, affordability and creativity. Thrifting allows them all to shop within their budgets while being environmentally conscious.
But not to worry, you will still also see plenty of people our age as well. Thirty-eight percent of Baby Boomers surveyed responded that they shop at thrift stores. The pandemic and nationwide lockdown created widespread economic hardships, which pushed many older adults to find ways to stretch their income. And there is another reason for the upswing in thrift store popularity as well — social connections.
What You’ll Get
What is it that keeps shoppers coming back repeatedly? According to Patti Clark, publisher of The Happy Thrifter Newspaper in Tampa, Florida, the answer is simple; it is all about the thrill of the hunt.
“For some it is about finding bargains,” she explained to Growing Bolder. “But for most of us, it’s about the excitement of finding things we haven’t seen in years, something that reminds us of our childhood.”
Clark said this creates a special connection between shoppers and allows those who start out as strangers to quickly engage in heartfelt conversations as their memories are sparked by the different things they find.
“So really, to me, thrifting creates this amazing social connection,” said Clark. “I’ve made the most wonderful friends, many of them half my age. It’s like my family of thrifter friends.”
What You’ll Find
Do not think that because you have seen one store you have seen them all. Each is different, eclectic, and ever changing. Some specialize in certain types of items, clothing, furniture, collectibles, toys and more. Some stock whatever they can. Some support different causes. It is well worth your while to search online to discover all the stores in your area and see which cater to your specific interests.
5 Tips for Thrift Shopping
- Know Before You Go
What shops are nearby? What are their specialties? What causes do they support? A quick search on the internet can save you lots of time and effort.
- Make a Plan
Know what you are looking for before you go, it can save you hours of browsing. Set a budget so you are not tempted to impulse buy. Get the feel of the places you visit and jot down some notes for future reference.
It’s fine to give a shop the once-over but try not to be too distracted by all the things you see that you might like to have! Remember, you have a goal in mind and if you let yourself wander you could easily find you have shopped the day away!
- Dress for Success
Some shops do not have a fitting room so here is a helpful tip — wear something you can put clothes on over the top of. This will give you that extra confidence as many do not allow returns.
- See How Low Can They Go
If that price does not seem right to you, do not hesitate to negotiate. The more respectful and friendlier you are, the more successful you can be. And it never hurts to always say hello to the workers. If they see you are a regular, they may be more inclined to allow a discount.
Above everything else, be sure to look at thrifting as an adventure and an interesting experience. Right now, the resale community is thriving. Check it out. You never know what you will find. This is the perfect time to see what is out there.