Thrifty Threads 365: Why I Thrift Shop

Posted On Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Filed Under: Deals & Steals, Thrift Stores, Thrifty Threads 365

Looking Fly on a Dime: My Thrift Story

Something interesting happened last week. Well, this wasn’t the first time it happened, but more like the second or even third time.
I had someone blame me for the increase in thrift store prices!
 A little backstory: I shared a link to one of my most popular and commented on posts, Have Thrift Stores Become Too Expensive?, and a Facebook follower commented that “fashionistas like you” are the reason these stores are raising prices. And I previously had a reader state that since blogs like mine “popularize” thrifting, that’s incentive for stores to raise prices.
While I’m flattered anyone would think I have that much power to affect pricing, I don’t. Of course there’s no denying thrift shopping has become more acceptable and trendy for people who don’t have to buy secondhand clothing out of necessity.
So why do I thrift shop and share my tips with readers?
I’ve shared my story in the past, but I’ve been thrifting for more than a decade, way before it became the in thing to do. I always loved hunting down a bargain back when I was a poor, barely getting by undergrad at Temple University. My love of thrift continued when I moved to NYC and I was a poor, barely getting by assistant at a fashion magazine. So for me, thrift shopping absolutely started out of necessity. I was able to create a head to toe look for less than $10 or $20. Also, I love how it gives me a way to really take fashion risks without investing serious money. And instead of wearing cookie cutter styles, thrifting is the most wallet-friendly way to develop an individual sense of style.
When it comes to sharing my tips and tricks {don’t forget, I’m writing a thrift shopping ebook!}, why wouldn’t I? If I have a level of knowledge about a certain topic, of course I’m going to share! I know some shoppers and bloggers who intentionally keep their favorite stores a secret because they don’t want anyone else shopping there and running up the prices or causing serious crowds. While I understand this line of thinking {the Queens Goodwill Outlet has become a zoo now that everyone knows about it!}, that’s just not how I operate. If I know of a great sale and way for people to save a dime, I’m sharing the info. Simple as that.
I refuse to accept that avid thrifters like myself are responsible for jacking up prices. While some stores have drastically increased prices, there are still plenty of secondhand shops that are affordable and serve the needs of those who can’t pay full price for clothes.
I’ll be interested to see if the thrifting boom comes to an end or where prices top out. All I know is I love to thrift and don’t see myself stopping, ever.
Why do you think thrift store prices have become more expensive? Do style bloggers or thrift advocates have any impact on pricing by making it “trendy”?  
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12 thoughts on “Thrifty Threads 365: Why I Thrift Shop

  1. I definitely don’t think it has anything to do with you or people like you. It’s supply and demand and I think thrifting has become more popular for the masses due to the economy.

  2. I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for over 25 years, so I can tell you the rise in prices started long before the style blogs became popular.

    I think there are many reasons that prices have gone up. For one, when stores started noticing that folks with money were coming in (not just the poor), they saw an opportunity. Thrift stores of yesteryear were usually a bit dingy and poorly lit. Now many thrift stores are located in nice shopping centers and try to look like boutiques. Nicer area and store = higher prices. Many ‘starlets’ now talk about their vintage thrift store finds, which drives some of their fans to give thrifting a try.

    The real culprit, though, is the rise of resellers – folks who scour thrift stores for items they can resell. This is especially true for vintage items that I used to buy for next to nothing. Now stores have special sections for vintage items! Some stores raise prices specifically to deter the resellers.

    • True, thrift stores have come a long way and are not attracting a clientele that has a bit more money and good point about the reselling business, it’s huge!

    • omg…thank you for mentioning the resellers! they are the culprit of me not being able to enjoy my thrifting…they come in and practically take so mch clothes with 3 shopping carts full of clothes and it drives me up the wall!!! They take it to their homes or little shops and jack the prices up 3xs the rate…they could at least clean it. If i go to a consignment boutique and if the item still smells just as bad as when it came out the thrift shop and the price is too high i will negotiate cuz i know where they got it from.

      • So the thrift/resale shop is supposed to spend money washing clothing (purchasing detergent, hiring someone to do laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) and still keep prices at $2 or $3? A thrift store is still a business, and has to make some type of profit, I don’t mind paying $10 for a $50 item that is gently used. And the resellers on ebay generally start bids at .99cents, so if this starts a bidding war then I say hurray for the seller. I don’t understand why some people don’t want to see anyone prosper except large corporations, it just baffles me. If I see the stay-at-home mom in the thrift store with her shopping cart full, I personally don’t give a fat frog’s behind if she’s going to resell or not, if she didn’t have clientele, then she wouldn’t be purchasing it. The larger thrift stores has 50% off days for a reason…to MOVE INVENTORY. They need space for more donations. If all this stuff doesn’t sell where does it go?

  3. I have been thifting for many years as well. Although they were on a rise they were not like we see today. The new culture of thrift shopping has opened the door to a new marketshare that organizations amd stores are capitalizing off of. There are tons of blogs, tv shows, and other sources that has helped to contribute to the rise prices. I do believe the budget friendly fashionistas help promote the rise of prices and the other sources I have mentioned above. This is no difference than the new market for natural hair products.

    I am a budget friendly fashionista as well and i hope you didn’t take my comment out of context.

    • No, definitely didn’t take your comment out of context 🙂
      And I love the natural hair example, good point!

  4. I have been thrfting for awhile. I think prices are rising due to the increase of the retail market and the fact that these clothes end up at the thrift store. I’m finding more and more brand new, great condition clothing, sometimes a season old in thrift stores and I believe the people working there know about this. So, they will capitalize on this for ex. a gap skirt that was selling for 59.99 and sell it for $10. I think that there are a bunch of other reasons too, but I think the age of fast fashion is a big reason.

    • yup, I see a lot of new, tags still attached clothes as well, especially from Target. A Goodwill near me was selling a Target dress for $25. Insane!

  5. I too shared your college struggle. I actually got my junior prom dress from a thrift store so I understand greatly! Thrift store prices to me are no different from any other store. They will go up just as any other store would. I haven’t seen the price of anything remain the same over the years. Why would a thrift store be any different? I will say I agree that thrifting has become way more popular due to blogging however.

    • Thanks for the comment Michaela. The issue isn’t thrift prices increasing (like you said, that happens anywhere!), it’s an issue of have they become too expensive for what they’re selling. Above I linked to the original story and referenced a basic dress selling for $20 at Goodwill and others have commented on how some thrift prices are comparable to department stores.

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