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Take a second look at secondhand

Cassie Harris

by Cassie Harris, Reporter

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Reused fashion does good for your closet, your community, and our planet

Roll up your sleeves. Open up your mind: let’s go shopping! Oh, but wait. We aren’t going to the mall. The real treasures can be discovered in secondhand shops. If you are still wary, here are all the reasons to take a second look at secondhand.

Large Selection

Larger chain thrift stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army occupy huge retail spaces due to the constantly growing  inventory. Organized by color, size, and type of garment, the clothes can range from vintage wedding dresses to simple t-shirts. Experimenting with different pieces is easy to do with the vast array of options.

Goodwill and other thrift stores carry garments across many generations and  brands. You are never short of inspiration and nostalgia.

In contrast, most clothing stores target a specific customer and style.

Environmental Benefits

Fast fashion is designed to get cheap and trendy clothing out to the public as fast as possible, so quality is sacrificed for profit, but there are more drawbacks than just a lower quality.

According to The True Cost documentary, the average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste per year, 65 pounds coming directly from clothing. However, up to 50% of the clothing we throw away could be reused, recycled, or brought into a secondhand environment. Reusing the garments reduces the amount of trash in landfills.

Dyes, bleaches and countless other chemicals go into the production of cheaply made clothing. In landfills, the chemicals can leach through the landfill, therefore making the landfill more toxic.

Even clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen in landfills cannot decompose the way other natural substances can because they have been manipulated by manufacturing.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon (any fabric that stretches is made of synthetic fibers.) often contain an indirect form of processed petroleum, or plastic. Plastics take hundreds, even thousands of years to decompose.

Lower Cost, More Clothes

Because secondhand doesn’t require production of new clothing, prices are often extremely low. Consignment stores tend to have higher price points than thrift stores because consignment stores cut a part of the profit out for the seller.

Depending on the condition, consigned garments are sold at 25-45% of the retail price, and the seller keeps on average one half of the selling price. If a shirt retails at $20, a consignment store could sell it at $7, and the seller would pocket $3.50.

Thrifted clothes are priced low enough to be available for all budgets, but high enough to pay for employee salaries, transportation and processing costs, and maintenance.

In Goodwill stores, coats have the potential of being the most expensive items; their maximum price is $40, higher than any other article of clothing. Take a walk into any store in the mall, and jeans, dresses, shoes, and even bathing suits can easily top $40.

All clothes sold are clean, and some even have original tags.

Support Local Business

Wherever there is a town, there is a demand for secondhand stores. Secondhand requires no production of new clothes and minimal transportation. Opening a regular retail store requires more money, energy, and time.

From pawn shops to hospital-backed thrift stores, Downtown Frederick is home to over 15 secondhand stores, and most of them have only one location.

The Find Consignment in Monrovia is an inviting consignment store that also offers jewelry services and repairs. The owners turned their love of finding good deals into a successful consignment shop.

Give Back to the Community

New clothing stores can have specials, but most thrift stores work with churches or other non profit organizations that help the common good.Thrift shops can either directly give clothing and household goods or profits of sales to charities.

St. James Thrift Shop in Mt. Airy directly supports St. James Episcopal Church, and other donations have gone to fire victims, Pregnancy Crisis Center, Frederick Rescue Mission, public schools, and foster families.

Goodwill stores make efforts to hire individuals with mental and physical disabilities to provide opportunities to every person in the community.

Tips for Your Next Secondhand Shopping Trip

Have an open mind! Secondhand stores are perfect opportunities to discover new, fun pieces. Shopping with no specific intentions can lead you to find pieces you would not have found otherwise.

Look through every rack, not just the ones in your size. Not only to garments get misplaced, but clothes can fit differently than what the label on the tag says. Sweaters and t shirts can look good if they are over-sized. If you shop only in the racks with your size, you are limiting the possibilities.

All clothes sold are clean, and some even have original tags. It is always wise to wash your clothing before wearing. That is true for new clothes, too. Any garment you purchase has been tried on my other potential customers.


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Take a second look at secondhand