Second-hand, vintage, consignment or however you want to refer to it — the clothing resale market is a billion dollar industry, with approximately 25,000 resale stores across the United States and over 80 in San Francisco alone.

Thrifting is quite possibly the most rewarding shopping experience due to its effect of simulating “treasure hunting,” and who doesn’t love finding hidden gems? Despite the aforementioned thrill, buying and wearing used clothes have been stigmatized for years. Many people feared that secondhand clothes were dirty and carried diseases having not been appropriately cleaned by the stores. Additionally, those who were superstitious believed that the misfortunes and misdeeds of the previous owner would be passed on through the clothing.

The vintage craze in recent fashion and home decor has drawn attention to thrift shops due to the wide selection of antique clothing that these stores offer.

Today, thrift shops are no longer reserved for the penny-pinching, but attract shoppers from all financial backgrounds. The vintage craze in recent fashion and home decor has drawn popularity in thrift shops due to the wide selection of antique clothing that thrift stores offer. Fashion bloggers strive to set new clothing trends to avoid looking like everyone else. Thrift stores provide the perfect solution to developing one’s own unique style with one-of-a-kind pieces at affordable prices. Many shoppers also find interest in thrifted items because they carry the story of the previous owner, and therefore have more character and life. Clothes whose only journey is from the manufacturer to the store lack this appeal. In the sea of mass-produced clothing, shoppers are seeking more ways to express their individualism and flair.

Television shows like “Thrift Wars” and “Thrift Hunters” are loosening up people’s perceptions of thrifting and the idea of buying used clothes. People are swarming to thrift stores to hunt for clothes and furniture to upcycle into DIY (do-it yourself) projects. The Grammy award winning song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis also contributed to the popularity of thrift shops among the younger generation. Many thrift stores donate a significant portion, or even all, of their proceeds to charities supporting both local and global causes. The “Out of the Closet” nonprofit chain of thrift stores, operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, donates their revenue to provide medical assistance to patients with HIV/AIDS and offers free HIV testing in their stores. Other thrift stores such as “Community Thrift” support their neighborhood on a smaller scale.

“It’s the best job I ever had,” said one Community Thrift store manager. “We benefit over 200 local charities, so we’re really giving back to the community.”

According to “The True Cost,” a documentary that aims to raise awareness for the environmental cost of the retail market, the average American discards 82 pounds of textile garbage each year, totalling up to 22 billion pounds of clothing from the U.S. alone.

In addition, most of these textiles are not biodegradable and many sit in our landfills for over 200 years. Thrift stores may be our best bet to save the environment. Resale is eco-friendly and keeps clothes from filling up our landfills. By shopping at a resale store, you are supporting local business, donating to charities and saving Mother Nature, all while looking stylish.

About The Author

Shannon Zhao
Board Correspondent

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