I’ll start off by saying that I love thrift stores. My husband and I have had thrift store dates since we started dating (I may have married the only person cheaper than I am). My in-laws also have made thrifting a hobby – I guess it runs in the family. Roughly 75% of the clothing my family wears (I talk about my kids’ clothes in this post), nearly all of the books, about half of the toys, a variety of household goods, and even a few pieces of furniture we found at the thrift store. Despite all of our success with thrifting, I’m always meeting people who believe thrift stores are gross.
If I had a dollar for every time a person praised me for being good with money and/or being smart about buying things I’d be able to buy my own thrift store. That said, people are just as quick to give excuses about why they don’t/can’t/won’t shop at thrift stores. Not going to lie, I do like hearing my mom tell stories of her friends’ kids who spend money like they have a money tree. That said, it also infuriates me when I hear (second-hand, of course) that these same people refuse to buy anything second-hand. I have had people tell me they don’t shop at thrift stores because, “if someone else wouldn’t want those items, why would they?”.
Some popular excuses for not thrifting include:
Thrift stores are dirty
Yes, some stores are dirty, but it takes you one trip to make that judgement. If one thrift store is dirty, find another one. The biggest thrift store in our town (that has 50 cent day once a week!) is FILTHY! We don’t go there. It isn’t worth it for us to shop there. However, we have two other stores in town (probably more, but there are two we frequent) that are clean and the employees are friendly. As for the items you buy at the thrift store, pretty much everything you buy you can wash. If you’re really concerned, don’t buy items you can’t wash – it is that easy.
Thrift stores are for poor people
Not only is this slightly offensive, it just isn’t true. True, while in grad school, my husband and I lived on a pretty thin budget, but I’m confident thrifting will always be part of our lifestyle (reasons why are later in this post 😉 )
New items are better/more reliable
For the most part, inexpensive products are made cheaply, personally, I’d rather find a well made higher quality item that’s been used than buy a cheap version at a big-box store. Newer does not necessarily mean better. Even clothing that is older is often better made. My husband, for instance, is tall and muscular (I hit the jackpot, I know) – clothes that fit him can be hard to find. Newer t-shirts are generally wider than they are long. However t-shirts made in the late 80s/early 90s are cut for his build (he’s a bit of a hipster, so the designs on the front are often his style too).
I don’t like digging
This I can understand, except I’m not sure how you can clothes shop without hunting. Maybe there are people who have a vision of what they are looking for and can find it. If you’re one of these mythical people – more power to you. However, I have reason to believe most people go shopping and then figure out what they want to buy (otherwise why would companies like StitchFix exist?).
They don’t sell my size or the brands I like
People of all ages/syles/body types donate to the thrift store. Therefore, there are clothes of all sizes and styles for sale at thrift stores. If you follow me on social media (you should if you don’t) you have likely figured out that I’m a big fan of Nike clothing (I swear it is made for tall people and their clothes are so stretchy). I find TONS of Nike clothing at thrifties!
Now that I’ve addressed reasons why people don’t thrift, here’s why I do.
We, like most people, are on a budget. If I can clothe my kids (and buy them every book ever published) without taking out a second mortgage, why would I not? Similarly, I can’t fathom spending $70 on a pair of pants for myself. Shopping at thrift stores allows me to dress my family well, buy my kids books and toys they want, and still have money to buy random things that strike our fancy (my husband is still all about a Pampered Chef snow cone maker he found new in the box for $4 a few months ago).
I like the thrill of the hunt
With thrift stores you never really know what you’re going to find. I have a running list of things I’m kind of looking for (jeans are currently at the top of the list) and I do look specifically for those, but I like knowing that even if I don’t find jeans, I’ll probably find something else. Very rarely do I leave a thrift store empty-handed.
I like knowing I’m making environmentally friendly shopping decisions
So many resources go into making new products. Shopping at thrift stores reduces the number of new products that need to be manufactured. Also, rather than being discarded, donated items aren’t in the landfill. So long as thrift stores exist, they will help reduce what goes into the landfill – why would I not support that?
We often find items to flip that pay for our other purchases
Many things are donated to the thrift store that make me question the person who donated them. Just today I saw a couple of new looking textbooks, so I got out my phone and scanned them using the Amazon Seller app. Two of the textbooks were the current edition and I was able to sell them to Amazon and immediately make a $75 profit! This was by no means the first time we’ve been able to flip an item we purchased at the thrift store – my husband has found bikes, guitars, furniture, etc. and sold them on Craigslist for a considerable profit.
Perhaps I should keep thrift stores my secret, and I know not everyone will jump on the thrifting bandwagon, but there are so many advantages to thrift store shopping that it is hard for me to understand those who choose not to thrift. If you’ve made it this far, why do (or don’t) you thrift? I am genuinely interested to hear what you have to say.