As prices continue to rise in traditional clothing stores, more and more people have redirected their attention, as well as their monetary support, to thrift stores. Eclectically arranged and each possessing an endearing charm, thrift stores offer customers an ever-changing and usually quite unpredictable set of goods at undeniably affordable prices.
Thrift stores have been around since the turn of the 20th century but were not an established industry until the 1940s when the London-based Red Cross and Oxfam laid the foundation on which the industry would develop. From that point on, the practice only grew, becoming staple locations for those looking for both secondhand goods and low prices. This remained the status quo for thrift stores throughout the 20th century as their popularity ebbed and flowed with the fluctuation of the economy.
More recently, the public opinion of buying secondhand has begun to change in accordance with society. The negative connotation related to buying secondhand has significantly dissipated in response to the increasing presence of humanitarian and environmental movements. These movements sparked a gradual shift in consumer support for“fast fashion” to more sustainable options. Unfortunately, some of these “more sustainable options” come with a steeper price tag, leading cause-conscious consumers to the doors of thrift stores.
In part, the rise of “thrifting” in recent years can also be attributed to social media influencers frequenting the locations. Videos of these influencers scouring their local secondhand shops on camera and showcasing their notable finds have achieved notable popularity; the internet trend has aided in thrifting’s rise, spreading the news of the boutiques’ unique charm and value to their fan bases.
Some approach the rise of thrifting and the demand for unique secondhand goods with an entrepreneurial spirit. Using only a phone, some savvy individuals have started up their own businesses by selling goods they find at their local thrift stores on social media, and make quite a profit doing so. This take on thrifting opens up a dramatically larger market for those looking for secondhand goods, increasing the reach of the industry from just within a community to a more global platform allowing people from all over the world to select goods from all over the world. There is a broad spectrum of reasons behind the growing popularity of thrifting but at least a portion of the appeal lies in its uncertain nature. It is impossible to tell before you open a thrift shop’s door what exactly you’ll find; sometimes it will be dozens of unappealing t-shirts and other times there will be unique pieces with unbeatable prices that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. It is also important to mention the positive societal impact of thrifting: apart from the environmental benefits, these establishments often raise funds for various causes. Customers are also often able to donate goods to locations which serve as a more sustainable, and sometimes even more profitable, option to simply throwing unwanted clothes away.
In the area around the University of Maine there are several options for someone looking to pick up thrifting as a hobby. Located directly in Orono are Orono Thrift Shop and Tokos Boutique, while GoodWill and Salvation Army are located in Bangor. Some reliable online locations for thrifted goods include doubledoublevintage.com and gullygarms.com.