The Dilemma of Thrifting

You search through countless clothing racks at Goodwill to find the perfect Levi’s to take home and refurbish into the ultimate pair of ripped mom jeans.

You go on the hunt for a funky, XL t-shirt to wear with the oversized flannel you just found at the thrift shop down the road.

You feel like you’ve won the jackpot when you find a great book for $0.75, an old Louis Vuitton hand bag for $10 or a jean jacket that fits you flawlessly on the shelf hidden in the back of the consignment shop.

Thrift shopping is an activity that is gaining popularity and hype with younger generations. The thrill of finding clothing and accessories that are in style but also a steal (from $0.50 to $10 in many thrift/resale/consignment shops) is addicting.

Thrift Stores come in all shapes and sizes (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons).

But are we being disrespectful? Aren’t thrift stores and resale shops, like Goodwill, suppose to be providing low-income families and individuals with clothing, accessories, books and furniture that are affordable to them? They weren’t made for hipster college kids to find cheap vintage clothes or for sorority girls and frat guys to find costumes for their upcoming themed mixer – right?

But where is the line drawn on the person that is allowed to shop in these thrift stores without stepping on anyone’s toes? Is the broke college student who is already stressing about future mortgages, bills and loans a viable candidate? Or the undergrad who would rather invest in experiences, like concerts and traveling, than on one singular shirt found at a fancy boutique or big brand company? There may be no right answer.

Or there may be just one: “More than 87 percent of the collective revenue from the sale of donated goods at Goodwill organizations supports and grows their critical community-based programs and services” ( and isn’t that enough? Besides Goodwill, many thrift stores give a percentage of their proceeds to organizations, missions and other services that helps those in need. So, regardless of whether or not the actual act of thrifting is disrespectful, the act of buying items at thrift stores and similar shops is valuable and makes a significant impact in people’s lives.

The hunt for the hidden treasures begins (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons).

Whether you’re a family of five living off of little income, a young adult looking for clothes for cheap, a single mom trying to find shoes for her kids, or a freshman in college scrounging to find something to make into a last minute halloween costume, thrift stores will never steer you wrong. Just remember, while you’re browsing through the endless racks and shelves, not to take what you have for granted. Always keep in mind that the person next to you may be in there because it’s all they can afford. Be respectful to the fellow customers, the employees that work tirelessly and the clothes and items in the store in general. But most importantly — find some good treasures.

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