The Act of Thrifting

Thrift stores and Salvation Armies galore. Having recently cleaned out my wardrobe, it occurred to me that by us consumers “thrifting”, how much are we taking away from those who are in need?

Now let me clear something up. By ‘us consumers’ I mean the average working individual who has the financial means to support him/herself. When we go thrifting how much of an impact do we make? On one hand our second hand purchases helps bring profit to the organization, who then in turn use it to support themselves and their community. On the other hand, when we purchase these inexpensive goods what message are we sending across to individuals who do depend on thrift stores? Are we unintentionally saying, “Look, I thrift because I can” ? Naturally when we thrift we take away available stock but my concern lies in what are the consequences of our actions? Or are there no consequences?

I don’t think we approach thrifting with the intent of embarrassing or hindering others who need the help, but I also don’t think we have really considered anything beyond “just thrifting.”

This is just a little food for thought, so feel free to give me your thoughts.


8 thoughts on “The Act of Thrifting

  1. Excellent point, a lot of people are doing it because it’s now cool though a lot are doing it and getting back into tailoring because money is getting tighter and tighter. I’ve pretty much always thrifted, born beneath the breadline and stayed there, but have too worried about about others in the groups in most need of charity/second hand stores. Sorry to say in the past 7-ish years I noticed many of these stores and chains especially have outpriced their core base – they’re more interested in buying to sell and then give which to me is cutting off the nose to spite the face. So many won’t take used clothes in good. wearable but not saleable condition beause they don’t donate directly anymore and it’s so hard to find donation boxes. Then there’s a bunch of companies that give people bags to stuff and leave outside their doors to collect but not all of them are actually charities. Car boot sales seem to be the more affordable for people who really need low prices but those who can’t afford clothing at all really need help yet so many of these charity stores don’t provide anymore. Always good to be on the lookout for ones that do give directly to the vulnerable/homeless for example.


    • Well said! While people aren’t going to stop thrifting for their fashion needs, I think it’ll be a good start to lower the prices back down. Prices have gone up high, sometimes to the point where you could probably spend just a few more dollars at say, Forever21, and get a new item (if you aren’t in dire need).


  2. That is an interesting perspective, however, thrift stores in reality operate in ways most people don’t realize. A very high percentage of the clothes ends up being recycled or sent overseas. The supply of used clothes in the US is so huge that these stores will never run out of things, it’s simply impossible. I like your philanthropic take on the issue, but i think it’s more harmful to constantly buy cheap fashion of poor quality that comes from unknown places where we don’t know what kind of working or environmental policies companies are operating with.
    Here is an article I found useful to understand the dilemma of thrift shopping:



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