Reexamining the way we resell

Anna Marquardt and Sloane Shabelman

A gray Calvin Klein t-shirt — $9.99. A Ralph Lauren polo — $13. Dr. Martens black leather shoes — $25.

With gently used name brand items being sold for such low prices at thrift stores such as Goodwill, the recent increase in popularity of thrifting makes perfect sense. But people like Natali Szczur, Social Studies Teacher, avoids thrifting altogether to combat the potentially negative consequences it can have on lower-income families.

While Szczur acknowledged that thrifting can be a fun activity and a positive alternative to fast fashion, she believes that the consumption of second-hand goods by those who can afford name brand clothing elsewhere can be harmful to those who can only afford thrift store prices.

“The point of donating clothes is so they can get a second life in a more affordable capacity,” Szczur said. “When [thrift stores are available for] higher income communities, a lot of that affordability component that’s supposed to be for a specific group of individuals [is taken advantage of].”

Senior Maddi Nagel agreed with Szczur’s thoughts, explaining that when people who can afford first-hand clothing constantly thrift, many essential items are taken away from people who are limited to buying their clothes only from thrift stores. Specifically, Nagel feels purchasing items from thrift stores and reselling them is unnecessary and detrimental to lower-income communities.

“I think there’s a difference if you thrift clothing and then you alter it and upcycle it, because then you can charge higher prices since you’ve put effort into it,” Nagel said. “But for people who buy [thrift store] clothes and then resell them for way more than they paid for it, it seems unnecessary to me.”

Nagel’s beliefs about reselling thrifted items, or “thrift flipping”, are echoed in an article written in The Pacific Index titled  “The Thrifting Trend and the Negative Effects on Low-Income Communities.’’ Generation Z has played a large role in the increase of thrifting and thrift flipping over the past three years as an attempt to find more sustainable ways to shop in lieu of fast fashion, the article explained. However, thrifting — and especially thrift flipping — still has its consequences.

“Thrift flipping is buying used products and turning them into new items, then reselling the newly made item for profit,” The Pacific Index stated. “Thrifting has its benefits, especially in helping out the environment and canceling fast fashion through recycling and reselling, but it can be detrimental to lower income and immigrant communities who rely on low priced everyday necessities.”

Senior Molly Thissen enjoys thrifting as a hobby and a fun activity to do with friends; yet, she also tries to be conscious of what she buys to ensure she is not taking advantage of the prices intended for lower-income families, she explained. Specifically, Thissen always avoids thrifting clothing items she views as necessities such as snow boots or winter coats, she said.

“I really enjoy being able to go thrifting, but at the end of the day, I do try to remind myself that I don’t want to take away from people who genuinely need it because I’m privileged enough to be able to buy from other stores,” Thissen said. “While I do get a lot of my wardrobe from thrifting, I do try to balance it out with getting stuff from [other] stores or hand-me-downs to make sure that I’m not thrifting constantly.”

Szczur believes that the harmful repercussions of thrifting can be avoided if thrifters educate themselves about the process of clothing donation and reselling prior to participating in thrifting. 

“[Thrifters] should be aware that there’s extenuating circumstances that take place that are out of [their] control,” Szczur said. “[They should look] into the process of how clothing gets to the specific store that [they] like to frequent, and then [they] can make more conscious decisions that way.”