skip to Main Content

Thrifting Into the Circular Economy

We buy used cars and used houses, we stay in hotel rooms used by other people, so why are people insecure about buying used clothing? There’s the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – well that’s thrifting! Traditionally, thrifting has meant buying clothing and household goods that were donated by others.  thrift stores receive donations from individuals who no longer want the items. The thrift stores then resell the items for a nearly 100% profit. It’s good to note that most thrift stores are affiliated with charitable and non-profit organizations. Thrifting has been gaining popularity over the last two decades as people look for new and creative ways to stretch their dollars. Whether it’s a mom making Halloween costumes or urban hipsters trying to create one-of-a-kind outfits (think Molly Ringwald in PRETTY IN PINK) thrifting is a great way to join the circular economy.

However, the term “thrifting” can turn-off some people. Kate Jackson, contributing writer of Forbes Magazine, fixed this problem by coining the phrase “re-commerce” as a replacement for second-hand or donated items. The good news is that for environmentally-conscious Generation Z, thrifting is not only a common practice, it’s a trend. Peruse Instagram or TikTok hashtags #thriftflip, #thrift, and #thrifting and you’ll be inspired to look for your own thrift store gold.

For many folks, thrifting is not just about the acquisition, it’s about the experience. The process of visiting thrift store after thrift store is an activity that satisfies the need for retail therapy. The added benefit is at the end of the day, you are left free of the self-judgment or guilt from an ill-advised purchase.  

The evolution of the Internet and e-commerce has given a whole new life to thrifting. Entire businesses have been built on people buying quality items at thrift stores and reselling them on the Internet via sites like eBay and PoshMark. Franklin Flannels, a Tennessee-based business, buys up used flannel shirts, reverse dyes and softens the shirts, and re-sells them. The possibilities for creating thrift-inspired businesses are endless.

Ok! So now you have a little background on thrifting, are you ready to save money? Thrifting is will give you the thrill of shopping without breaking the bank. A word of advice, the best savings are usually in places with the lowest overhead. That means the lighting will be less than ideal, the floors may be grungier than you like, and the organization of the items might not necessarily make sense. But these less attractive buying outlets are where you are going to find the coveted gems that make you dance with delight! The key is not choosing a thrift store based on your location but based on where the store is getting their inventory. Find the most elite areas of your own city and find out where people donate their used items. Collection locations will always attribute their non-profit and sales outlets.

As you roll up your sleeves, here are a few more helpful tips for thrifting:

  • Check for promotions- Most thrift stores have promotions such as 50% colored tags, senior day discounts, or coupons for making a donation. Try to maximize your savings!
  • Feel for quality– Some designer labels will be removed before an item is put on the racks. Your fingers can feel the difference between a luxury product and a cheap one without even seeing the brand name.
  • Look closely for flaws– Some items are donated for a reason. A quick inspection can find snags, stains, or rips before you bring an item home. 
  • Wash your purchases- Unless the material is not suitable for washing, it is always best to give your newfound treasures a spin in the laundry.
  • Bring reusable shopping bags–  carry your efforts into the circular economy all the way through and forgo plastic bags.

Nothing beats the feeling of finding a great piece of clothing and after some quick research, realizing you’ve found a holy grail of fashion. By buying recycled clothing, you are extending the lifespan of the products you buy. That is a win-win for both the consumer and the environment. Reducing the demand for new clothing production will reduce your own carbon footprint and help increase your overall sustainability. Now get thrifting!

Share on Social

Back To Top