Is thrift shopping becoming gentrified?


Art by Morgan Eun

Remember the song Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? No? Well, to remind you, Macklemore raps about how one of a kind thrift shopping finds are. You know, the “grandad’s button-downs” and the “grandma’s coats”. He goes into thanking his relatives for donating clothes to Goodwill that he is now buying from. Well, for the past couple years, as thrift shopping became more popular, people started to have some negative feelings about this problem; the problem being upper-middle-class buying from second-hand stores like Goodwill, and either flipping the products to make a profit, or buying unnecessary items which could be the cause of prices rising in second-hand stores. This leaves people that live in impoverished areas who are prominently people of color at a disadvantage to buy affordable clothing.


Thrifting in the media:

According to the 2020 Resale Report by ThredUP, thirty-three million people bought second-hand apparel in 2020 and 73% of them plan to continue their spending over the next five years. Although the consumption of second-hand apparel items is environmentally friendly and sustainable, there is a debate whether it is ethically conscious. One of the problems people are starting to talk about is the influencers who have dedicated their page or channels to buying from stores like Goodwill and Salvation army for videos where they “flip” their finds and alter them to fit a certain style or for a better fit. These influencers often buy more than necessary and end up selling the excess of their finds on Depop (an online store where you can sell and buy clothes from others) for profit than they originally bought the items for.


Credit: Sean Benesh / Unsplash

Depop:

Over 90% of Depop users are under the age of 26, according to Depop's facts and figures. This platform opens up new opportunities for young people to start their own businesses by selling clothes without the use of fast fashion, which is ultimately better for the environment. Although there are some pros to more people thrift shopping at stores like Goodwill, there are definitely some cons, like whether it is entirely ethical due to the prices that they sell these “vintage” clothes at. Oftentimes, young people that are selling these clothes online go thrift shopping at stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, where the prices for vintage looking clothing is cheap. People buy from these second hand thrift stores and up the prices depending on what's trending at the time to sell for their own Depop store. The reason why people are struggling to grapple with this idea is because this could be one of the reasons why prices are rising in thrift stores and are expected to continue rising in the future which can make it harder for people that need an alternative, cheaper second hand store to buy clothes from.


The future of thrifting:

As mentioned before, people on YouTube and Tik-Tok have dedicated their channels and pages to thrifting. As mentioned earlier, these channels will show people buying clothes from thrift stores where they plan to get an excessive amount of clothes to change them or cut them to fit better to get more views. According to the 2020 Resale Report by ThredUP, the second hand market is expected to double within the next five years, bringing the market value from 36 billion dollars to 77 billion dollars. Due to the rise in market value it is easy to assume over the next five years the prices are going to continue rising in all thrift stores, including a more popular thrift store like Goodwill.


What do you think? Who should be blamed for the rising prices in stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army? The consumers who buy excessive amounts of clothing could be the reason why the prices are rising or the stores that are the ones raising them? Or is it neither and instead the corrupted system that encourages buyers to shop at places that sell clothing that was made by people in terrible working conditions and the use of fast fashion which is one of the factors contributing to killing our earth?


Sources:


VOX article:

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22396051/thrift-store-hauls-ethics-depop

Goodwill Website:

https://www.goodwill.org/about-us/our-vision-for-transformation/

Thread Up resale report:

https://www.thredup.com/resale/#size-and-impact

Depop:

https://news.depop.com/who-we-are/facts-and-figures/

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