The Thrills of Thrifting


Dwight Burdette (Wikimedia Commons)

A Goodwill thrift shop in Canton, Michigan.

Caity Dawes and Audrey Compiano

It is a well-known fact that high school students do not have much money. We may have part-time jobs and the added wealth of our parents, but in reality, most high school students are broke. Unfortunately, in the good old suburb of Cary, everything is expensive. Not much goes on around here, so most activities that teenagers like doing require cold, hard cash. Going out to dinner requires money. Driving around with friends requires gas money. Buying new clothes requires money…or does it?

Teenagers often overlook a certain place to shop for a new wardrobe– thrift stores. However, buying from thrift stores, or “thrifting”, has unfortunately been frowned upon by high schoolers.

There is nothing better than going to thrift store and finding a shirt straight from the 80’s. Finding a marked down pair of vintage jeans, that would normally go for eighty (or more) dollars at a regular retail store, is something else. Not only is thrifting cheap, but it is a way to find unique pieces that really enhance one’s sense of style. Thrift stores have outfits you can’t find anywhere else because there is only one of each on the shelf.

However, thrifting does take time and persistence. Going into a Goodwill or another second hand store, it is never a guarantee that one will find what they are looking for the first time around. It can also be intimidating the first couple times not knowing where to start among the seemingly endless rows of random clothes. However, it is incredibly rewarding to find something that makes you excited for under ten dollars. An easier way to find specific styles without all the physical labor of looking through every piece, is looking on online thrift stores like Depop and Poshmark. They pick up keywords from product posts and which helps direct you to certain items you are looking for. It is important to note that these thrifting outlets will be more costly then small, local thrift stores.

Other major benefits that result from thrifting are supporting local economies, small businesses, reducing on mass manufacturing (which in turn reduces all the virgin materials and resources that went into the processing), and advocating through action against the use of sweatshops. When thrifting is done locally, it keeps money circulating through the community and keeps smaller business afloat through one’s monetary support. Retail clothes are produced in masses that involve vast amounts of resources for the input which result in a much smaller amount of output. Thrifting reuses materials that have already been made and keep them circulating, rather than putting them in the trash just to make even more. Lastly, most retailers are guilty of “fast fashion” which is a term coined for companies that mass produce clothing for very cheap through the use of sweatshops– offshoring clothing manufacturing to poorer countries where they can get workers for very low wages and most of the time have very unhealthy, dangerous working conditions– and sell it back to the public at much higher price. By denying business to companies that engage in such activity causes them to lose profits and eventually, hopefully, will have to make some changes in order for their target audiences to return.

Overall, thrifting is a very smart choice. It is kinder on your wallet and subsequently, has a ton of other benefits. Buying from thrift stores should be a more common activity, even if you do not commit to buying all of your clothes second hand. It is a fun activity to do with friends and it creates a mindful mentality of buying things with intention, rather than buying the first five things you like in a store. Your wardrobe will become unique and specially curated for you.