What Is A Thrift Store?

Secondhand items and clothing aren’t held in the same regard these days, the rise in popularity stems from people trying to reduce their impact on the environment as well as save money. 

What Is A Thrift Store

If you’ve ever been to your local thrift store, you’ll know they can sell almost anything and regularly take donations. You’ll always manage to find something unique when visiting a thrift store. 

In this article, we are going to explore what a thrift store is and how they work. 

What Is A Thrift Store?

A thrift store is defined as “a shop that sells secondhand articles and especially clothes and is often run for charitable purposes”. According to recent research, there are more than 25,000 stores that come under the thrifting category in the United States. 

Common examples of thrift stores in the U.S include Salvation Army and Goodwill, whereby the profits from selling the items in the store go to charities and help out local communities. 

Profit Thrift Stores

Some stores will sell their items for profit. These are still considered thrift stores as they sell secondhand items such as clothes but these are unlikely to be donated and will be sourced by the store themselves and sold as ‘vintage’ or under the theme of something similar. 

These stores are more pricey as they are selling for profit rather than for charity. 

How Are Thrift Stores Different From Retail Stores? 

As thrift stores are usually run for charitable purposes, they take donations of gently used secondhand items which they sell for a small fee. When items are donated they are thoroughly inspected to ensure they are in good condition to be used in a new home. 

Thrift stores are ever-changing and don’t really follow the ‘trends’ that retail stores adhere to. They do tend to stick to seasonal items, as coats are obviously more likely to sell during the winter which helps them move their stock. 

Retail stores sell clothes that have been designed specifically for them which change with the seasonal fashions and are carried in a variety of sizes.  

What To Expect

Although you may have something in mind, going to a thrift store is more about rummaging around the racks and shelves to find a bargain or something interesting and unexpected.

When you visit a retail store, you can guarantee they will stock a certain level of items such as basic plain t-shirts or jeans

As items are secondhand, they won’t carry multiple size options of the same item. In a thrift store, what you see is what you get. Occasionally you will find brand new items with tags on them, result! 

In some cases, the stores may have something similar to the item you like in another size out back. Ask the staff if you need any assistance with this.  

Usually, the staff will know when they expect to get more of a certain item such as children’s toys or kitchen appliances. They can advise you on when to come back and try your luck again. 

What Can You Find At A Thrift Store?

What Can You Find At A Thrift Store
  • Board Games
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Accessories
  • China
  • Electronics
  • Glassware
  • Household decorations
  • Furniture (at larger stores or specific secondhand furniture stores) 
  • Silverware 
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Toys 

However, clothing is what makes up the majority of the thrift stores’ stock and sales. According to IBISWorld, clothing accounts for 31.8% of thrift stores’ sales. 

Who Should Go Thrifting?

Anyone can go thrifting! That’s the beauty of buying secondhand, it’s accessible for everyone. Those that have a limited budget can dramatically reduce their spending on things such as children’s clothing. As children grow so fast, they rarely get much use out of some items. 

As a result, there are often extremely good quality items for sale which helps with costs and also allows people to give clothing a new life rather than be thrown in the trash. 

Creatives often visit thrift stores on the lookout for items they can upcycle or incorporate into their homes. As the pieces found in thrift stores are secondhand, the range of unique and antique items available for a fraction of the price can be found in abundance. 

Where Can I Find Thrift Stores?

Thrift stores are easy to locate in your local area. Websites for these stores such as GoodWill and the Salvation Army will have store locators featured on their homepages. Simply type in your location or ZIP code and it will direct you to your nearest locations. 

A number of online stores also work on a secondhand basis. Sites such as eBay, Thrift+, and ThredUp are marketplaces that can store a number of designer and good-quality secondhand clothing items that are sold by individuals. 

Charity Work

The proceeds that companies such as Goodwill receive from their thrift stores go back into the local community. They have a number of local organizations that create job training programs, employment placements, and other community-based programs in their neighborhoods.

According to their website, in 2021 they helped more than 123,000 people train for new careers in various industries such as banking, IT, and healthcare. Their mission is to try and help end poverty through their work.   

Donating To Thrift Stores

Anyone can donate just about anything to a thrift store. Take your items to the store bagged or boxed up neatly and placed in their donation bin. If this isn’t obvious upon arrival, then ask a retail assistant and they will be able to point you in the right direction. 

Do not donate anything broken, stained, hazardous, expired, recalled, or dangerous to a thrift store. 

The Bottom Line

Thrifting is a popular way to make use of pre-loved items and a fantastic way to donate your old things whilst helping out a good cause. Every trip to a thrift store is a new experience and you’ll never know what you might find!

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