I love thrift store shopping. Well, “love” might not be the best word. Sometimes the clothes smell weird and touching old hats gives me the heebie jeebies. I guess I love the fruits of my thrift store shopping labor. That’s a more accurate statement.
Some people will never set foot in a thrift store, and that’s fine; it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you already love thrift shopping, read on and share your own stories in the comments. If you’re kinda sorta wondering why and how thrifting could fit into your lifestyle, hopefully I can steer you toward your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other second-hand store*. Here are seven good reasons to start thrifting!
- It’s Kind to the Environment
Buying clothes second-hand puts to use materials that have already been sewn, shipped, stocked and sold. I’m not an environmental expert but I’ve read the stories about the tonnages of clothing waste Americans produce every year, so reusing garments definitely helps reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure you’re also donating all of your own old clothes to a thrift store, instead of just adding them to the landfill. Goodwill stores will even recycle textiles that aren’t suitable for sale.
- Your Shopping Gives Back
Some thrift stores are privately-owned, for-profit enterprises, so this reason won’t apply to them. But other thrift stores, like Goodwill Industries, operate in order to support charitable programs, locally and nationally.
- You Can Support Local Businesses
Some people point out that you can buy new clothing at Walmart for prices lower than what some thrift stores charge. This may be true, but some people also hate supporting huge box stores. Shopping at your local thrift store will support the jobs of the people who work there, and you won’t be giving your money to a big corporate conglomerate. Plus, once you hone your thrifting skills, you can get better quality for your money as opposed to buying cheaply made pieces from a whatevermart. (I know some people like to think that large nonprofits like Goodwill are no better than big corporate conglomerates, so if that describes you, there are plenty of smaller, locally-owned thrift stores out there.)
- You Can Save in an Emergency
Thrift shopping is one of the first spending habits you should adopt when you find yourself in a financial emergency. Particularly if you have children, buying clothes second-hand is a fantastic way to manage your clothing expenses. Going beyond clothing, thrift stores are also a great way to save on other items that you don’t have to pay full price for: holiday decorations, picture frames and other home décor, books, and furniture.
- You Can Have a Transitional Closet
When I was pregnant, I loathed the idea of spending money on a whole new wardrobe from a maternity store. I eventually needed to buy a few specialty maternity items (and the constant upsizing of bras nearly wiped out my whole wardrobe budget!), but for most of my work outfits I thrifted stretchy knit dresses a couple sizes up, stretchy skirts that I could wear above my bump, and several pairs of maternity jeans. Thrift stores are also a good place for buying up or down a size or two if you find your weight fluctuating but aren’t ready to commit to a brand-new closet at your current size.
- You Can Build a Wardrobe Foundation…or Get Experimental
These exact opposites are my second-favorite reason for shopping at thrift stores. Seek out plain tees and tanks for layering, solid cardigans for work, or simple denim: a thrift store is a great place to stock up on wardrobe staples. Unless you run in some really specific (and frankly, intimidating) circles, no one is going to know if your black v-neck tee is a $115 Alexander Wang or a $2.99 recycled Mossimo from Target.
On the other end of the spectrum is experimentation. If I want to try a new denim trend (even if it ends somewhat disastrously as I‘ll describe in a future post), I can buy a pair of jeans for $5.99 and cut/crop/distress my little heart out without feeling buyer’s remorse. I can also buy oversized sweaters, menswear, wild colors, crazy prints, or whatever else is on-trend, and try it out IRL without paying on-trend prices. Google “recreate runway fashion at thrift store” and get inspired.
- Paying Peanuts for Major Brands
In a future post I’ll share my all-time favorite thrift store finds, the ones that made me momentarily breathless when I spotted them on the rack. If you learn your labels and your materials, and if you have LOTS of patience, the euphoria of scoring thrift store gold far outweighs the typical warm feeling you get from buying something nice for yourself. You’re getting something upscale at a rock bottom price, so you can put the savings in the bank, buy more stuff, or get some pizza as a reward for your thrift shopping prowess: what could be better?
Have I convinced you to become a thrift-shopping convert? Are you already a thrift store maven and you think I’ve left off a good reason to thrift?
*Note: consignment stores are technically second-hand but to me, it’s quite different from thrifting. Think of them as curated thrift stores, and expect to see higher price tags because of it – still a good place for steals though!
The shirt on the left is the Alexander Wang, and if you look closely, you can see it’s fairly see-through. Always wear a nude bra with white to avoid showing the silhouette!