By now it's unlikely that anyone doesn't have at least a small grasp on what online thrifting is. The trendy new way of shopping is getting more and more popular, so here is online thrifting broken down into a simple form that's easy to understand.
Thrift stores, stores selling secondhand clothes and other household goods, have been around since the 19th century. Originally reserved for raising money for charity and a shopping place for low-income people, thrifting was recently popularized in 2017 by influencers. The idea of thrift shopping became a trend very quickly, but unlike most trends, thrifting has stuck around.
Fast-forward to 2020 and new circumstances have led to necessary adaptations. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that almost all stores were closed for months on end, including thrift stores.
Online thrift stores aren't exactly a new thing, like eBay which has been around since 1995, but it has definitely been popularized in recent months.
“I started [online thrift shopping] in seventh grade... I realized that online thrift stores sold a ton of popular brands at a fraction of the price,” says B-CC high school senior, Amelia Brown.
Online thrift shopping is an easy concept. It consists of a seller taking any old clothes, shoes, or accessories and uploading pictures of them to a site. The seller then puts a description of the item they're selling, the size, the brand, and finally the price.
It is mostly second-hand clothing that has already been worn, so the pricing 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 set an extremely high price. “Rare” Brandy Melville pieces can be sold for around $70 if the demand is high enough.
The sellers are not the only ones with the capability to manipulate other users. On any online thrift shopping app, the buyer is able to bid, message, and give offers on any items. Since the prices can be adjusted at any time, most sellers are willing to negotiate prices. This gives buyers another opportunity to get their clothing at an even better price.
But why use online thrift shops?
If it’s going to be online wouldn’t it be better to just buy new clothes?
“Pros [of online thrifting]: cheaper than buying new clothes, better for the environment, [and] easy to find good quality items,” says an online thrift shopper.
You get to pick from millions of clothing items at extremely discounted prices, and above that bidding and negotiations are available from almost all sellers.
Fast fashion is a huge problem in the world today. Big chain brands produce thousands of items while exploiting workers. Workers get paid minimum wages for extremely hard work.
Along with that fast fashion also contributes to overproduction and pollution. Online thrift stores allow people to recycle any old clothes and limit the number of people who buy from fast fashion. When you thrift, instead of supporting fast fashion, you are helping the environment.
Easy to use:
Like regular online shopping, all you have to do is search for items you are looking for. Keyword searching, the ability to “like” posts, and filtering by size, price, etc. make it an easier alternative to in-store thrift shopping where everything is a lot more disorganized. The shopping experience also becomes more personalized with the ability to independently message the seller with questions about the item/pricing.
“The main con”, says Amelia Brown, “is that it is more expensive than physical thrift stores”.
The prices do vary, but since it is an individual seller pricing the items instead of a store, pricing will at times be more expensive than regular thrifting. But even then, prices are still cheaper than buying first hand.
It is pretty easy to tell when sellers are lying about the quality of their item because pictures of the product must be included, but if you are buying pricier “vintage” or luxury items buying fakes by accident is absolutely a risk. Luckily many websites, such as The Real Real, offer verification of authenticity when buying luxury items, and allow you to return items if they differ from what the seller claimed.
Online thrift shopping is a 2020 trend that has some obvious rough patches but also provides many pros to both sellers and buyers. As apps like Depop, eBay, and Poshmark gain popularity, online thrift shopping seems like a trend that's here to stay.
(Originally Printed in B-CC Tattler Newspaper)