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Thrift Stores: Where Have they Gone?

Thrift Stores: Where Have they Gone?

Thrift stores – does this term ring a bell? I know it does for some of you because I too am a shopaholic! Now, the pandemic has dampened our enthusiasm and reduced those constant shopping trips we all made but every cloud has a silver lining. Thrift stores have become quite the rage, especially after the onset of the covid.

Online shopping has been a modern trend for a long time but in recent times, it’s not a surprise that thrift and consignment stores have bewitched the customer community more. Thrift stores were once the preference of customers as they promised security, accessibility and a safe; hygienic delivery. The real question here is, do we thrift enough when it comes to viewing the industry as a whole, in a new age of fashion.

Thrift stores & Their Historical Place

I think it is a constant game that we the public play when it comes to supporting our local businesses vs the large high street chain. As vital as it is to show support, we also need to be aware of both sides of the coin. Thrift stores are all about rehousing an eclectic collection of clothes, accessories and footwear. For this reason, many of us who like fashion expression did very well at thrift stores. There were unique pieces in a few sizes, which made finding them all the more exciting! Closets were full of clothes that made it difficult to determine what one’s personal sense of style was. Vintage pieces that have been discontinued were sold at a fraction of the cost, so thrift stores were the real bargain hunt.

When you had the time to search, you’d be able to find the most amazing stuff to go with your style. The range was from good quality to luxury, but only if you had the time to look. Thrift stores were huge during the early stages of over-consumption. Therefore when you’re trying to figure out your style, it was okay to leave thrift stores with duffel bags full of treasure! That is how the it-girls of today curated their own personal style. They had to shop for different items and compare them to magazines. Nothing like today, in which how-to-style advice is readily available.

Along with being largely eco-friendly, some stores collaborated with
charities and donated most of their earnings to these organisations or NGOs.

Selling in the Market

The gentrification of some products leads to unreasonable rises in overall costs and makes basic products expensive. That is contrary to the reason thrift stores were alive and well in their heyday. Some of us don’t have access to the internet and we used the physical location as a way of expanding our personal collection. The pandemic has left a huge hole in the consumer industry as a whole as many businesses couldn’t recover from months of not being able to sell. Globalisation and the world wide web have made it easier for thrift stores to close up shop and sell online.

Thrift stores tend to buy products in bulk to sell to consumers. The move to online distribution mainly affects low-income households who relied upon the stores for basic needs. This perpetuates the cycle of many of us being unable to purchase good quality clothes, leaving us to over-consume. There is no long-term guarantee of any second-hand products sold, or even a fair return policy in most stores, whether its neckpieces, silver lockets, dresses or any piece of clothing for that matter.

Thrifting & the Pandemic

This has its own economic consequences and in turn, affects the culture of fashion as a concept too. With this, the issue of supporting fast fashion is highlighted. In my opinion, in some sense, we have thrifted fashion away but it solely depends on our awareness of the issues. The decision to make smart choices after learning about the global impact of thrift stores is up to us. As the world slowly digresses back to normal, thrift stores continue to capture the hearts of many. Shopping stores are becoming lively again, with many preferring the instant gratification of seeing and feeling the clothes. Can we maintain the fashion balance between second hand and straight from the showroom fashion?

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