Should Thrift Stores Be Reserved For Those Who Need Them?

I’ve been an avid thrifter for over fifteen years. I also buy at consignment shops, on eBay and online at Twice. And I’m fortunate to be able to buy at “regular” retailers as well, if I choose, although I love a deal.

I have heard (not often, but it’s out there) that thrifting should be solely for those who need it, who can’t afford to shop at consignment stores, let alone at Macy’s.

The argument goes something like this (excerpt from a Reddit thread):

“I am from an upper middle class family who lives in a well off town. To me shopping at a thrift store always was for people who couldn’t afford normal clothes. I’ve donated lots of clothes to thrift shops assuming that it would go to people who need it.

Recently a lot of rich kids in my town have started shopping at the local thrift shop looking for cheap hipster clothes. I think this is wrong as thrift shops only have a limited amount of clothes and they should go to people who need them.

To me it seems like going to a thrift shop is like going to a food bank.”

I’ve given the writer’s views some thought. Although she is well-intended, I don’t agree with her premise or conclusion. Here’s why I think not-poor people can shop at thrifts without manufactured guilt:

  • Many thrifts are charity based. The one I work for supports the Humane Society and their no-kill shelter. So by spending our dollars at charity shops, we’re contributing to a good cause.
  • There is no used clothing shortage, as far as I can see. Our thrift has a back room piled with donated clothing to be sorted, priced and hung up. We are never going to be caught up, no matter how many “rich” people come in to shop. Used clothing, we has it. Which leads to my next point:
This isn’t where I volunteer – we’re small – but this it typical of what I see at Goodwill,
Salvation Army and others. Clothes, baby!
  • Well-off customers not only shop at our store, they donate. A lot. And they donate many items that less fortunate people don’t often buy, like pricey silverware and china sets, and valuable furniture and art. Hooray for that – and for the “rich” folks who buy them. They pay for a lot of cat food.
  • I asked our shop’s manager, who’s run the store for almost 20 years, what he thought of the opening hypothesis. He said, “That’s just ridiculous. We open our doors wide for any customer, rich, poor and in-between.”

Do you have any thoughts on this? If you’re a frequent thrift shopper, how do you feel about well-off shoppers scooping up arms-ful of clothing?

Stay fabulous,

Pretties for Spring and Summer, not thrifted but on a good sale:

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