Right now, it’s unlikely anyone doesn’t have at least some idea of what online savings is. The trendy new way to shop is becoming increasingly popular, so here’s the online thrift store broken down into a simple, easy-to-understand form.
Thrift stores, stores selling second-hand clothes and other household items, have been around since the 19th century. Originally reserved for charity fundraising and a place to shop for low-income people, the thrift store was recently popularized in 2017 by influencers. The idea of thrift stores became a trend very quickly, but unlike most trends, thrift stores stuck.
Fast forward to 2020 and new circumstances have led to necessary adaptations. The COVID-19 pandemic caused almost all stores to close for months, including thrift stores.
Online thrift stores aren’t exactly new, like eBay which has been around since 1995, but they’ve definitely been popularized in recent months.
“I started [online thrift shopping] in seventh grade…I realized that online thrift stores were selling a ton of popular brands at a fraction of the price,” says B-CC high school student Amelia Brown.
Buying deals online is a simple concept. It consists of a seller taking old clothes, shoes or accessories and uploading photos to a site. The seller then puts a description of the item he is selling, the size, the brand and finally the price. These are mostly used clothes that have been worn before, so the price will usually be a cheaper alternative to buying directly from the store. Controversies have arisen as some sellers take advantage of in-demand items and charge an extremely high price. Brandy Melville “rare” pieces can sell for around $70 if demand is high enough.
Sellers aren’t the only ones who can manipulate other users. On any online thrift app, buyer can bid, message and make offers on any item. As prices can be adjusted at any time, most sellers are willing to negotiate prices. This gives shoppers another opportunity to get their clothes at an even better price.
But why use online thrift stores?
If it’s online, wouldn’t it be better to buy some new clothes?
“Advantages [of online thrifting]: cheaper than buying new clothes, better for the environment, [and] easy to find good quality items,” says one online second-hand shopper.
You can choose from millions of clothing items at extremely discounted prices, plus auctions and bargains are available from almost every seller.
Fast fashion is a huge problem in today’s world. Big chain brands produce thousands of items while exploiting workers. Workers are paid minimum wage for extremely hard work. Along with this, fast fashion also contributes to overproduction and pollution. Online thrift stores allow people to upcycle their old clothes and limit the number of people buying fast fashion. When you save money, instead of supporting fast fashion, you’re helping the environment.
Easy to use:
As with regular online shopping, all you have to do is search for the items you are looking for. Keyword search, the ability to “like” posts, and filtering by size, price, etc. make it a simpler alternative to in-store thrift stores where everything is much more disorganized. The shopping experience also becomes more personalized with the ability to independently message the seller with item/price questions.
“The main con“, says Amelia Brown, “it’s more expensive than physical thrift stores”.
Prices vary, but since it’s an individual seller pricing items instead of a store, prices will sometimes be more expensive than regular thrift stores. But even then, the prices are still cheaper than buying first hand. It’s pretty easy to tell when sellers are lying about the quality of their item because photos of the product must be included, but if you’re buying more expensive ‘vintage’ or luxury items, buying fakes by accident is absolutely a risk. Fortunately, many websites, such as The Real Real, offer verification of authenticity when purchasing luxury items and allow you to return items if they differ from what the seller claimed.
Online second-hand shopping is a 2020 trend that presents obvious difficulties, but also offers many advantages for sellers and buyers. As apps like Depop, eBay, and Poshmark grow in popularity, second-hand shopping online seems like a trend that’s here to stay.
(Originally printed in B-CC Tattler Journal)