It dawned on me, as I flipped and flipped through endless blouses at a local Goodwill on Monday, that thrift shops will never run out of items for me to add to my closet. Sure, there are a few items (like underwear) that I’d rather not purchase at the thrift store, but really, there’s a lot to be found if you take the time to look.
A few of my prized thrift finds include LL Bean Duck boots, a BCBG Max Azria Flapper-style dress, and several items in pristine condition that I wear so much I forgot I bought them on the secondhand market.
And if that’s not enough, internet marketplaces and local vintage shops allow me to shop curated collections when I’m not in the mood to spend 2 hours searching through crowded racks. I buy most of my shoes secondhand on ebay; I’ve purchased like-new Minnetonka moccasins and several pairs of sneakers for a third of their original price. I found my favorite vintage dresses on etsy and ebay.
The marketplace is flooded with piles of discarded clothing with plenty of wear left, so why do we insist on buying new? Secondhand shopping is easier than it’s ever been – we can do it from our couches – so we really have no reason not to try it.
People are often confused about the ethical value of secondhand shopping, noting that many donated goods were likely produced in sweatshops. What they aren’t connecting is that the thrift market doesn’t operate according to traditional supply-and-demand principles; if you buy cast-offs, you aren’t participating in the traditional market at all. Instead, you’re opting out; you’re boycotting; you impact it only because you’re avoiding it. We’re nowhere near operating in a market in which demand for secondhand items exceeds supply, so we can rest assured that we do no harm (to others, at least) when we make it rain at the thrift store.