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What Is Thrifting?

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What is thrifting? Thrift stores are great places to get cheap clothes and other items at very low prices.

They also provide a unique shopping experience where you can meet new people and connect with local communities.

Thrift stores are often considered the cheapest way to shop.

The idea behind them is simple: they sell donated goods from retailers who want to clear out their inventory or they sell clothes that are used and donated by the public.

These stores usually offer a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from clothing to furniture.

Thrift stores are a great place to go for bargain hunting. They are typically located in big cities or towns, and some even operate online.

If you have ever thought of trying thrifting before but you aren’t too sure where to start, then keep reading. 

What Does It Mean To Go Thrifting?

girl looking through thrift store clothes rack

When you think about going thrifting, what comes to mind? Do you imagine yourself walking into a store filled with racks of clothes and piles of shoes?

Or do you picture yourself browsing through rows of books on a shelf? Well, what if we told you that you can do both!

Thrifting is a form of shopping but is not exclusive to clothes. People often thrift for furniture, technologies, home goods, sporting equipment, and entertainment.

Thrifting can take the form of garage sales or donation stores and simply used-goods stores. How they price their items will be based on the type of thrifting store and the product being sold.

Thrifting stores will usually sort their items into categories, but they might have occasional duplicates if items were donated at similar times.

Essentially, the term, ‘thrifting’ is a verb that can replace ‘shopping’ but will refer to the second-hand shops you are buying from.

Other types of thrifting stores can include flea markets, estate sales, charity stores, donation centers, and more, and it’s a great way to give some pre-loved items a second home. 

Thrift Stores V Online Thrift Stores

multiracial couple peeking their heads through a used clothing rack and having fun while shopping at a thrift store

Thrift stores sell secondhand goods via donation or consignment or reselling items through another distribution method. There is something for everyone and you can find some amazing clothes or other goods at an amazing cost.

However, you can also now find online thrift stores. These are just like regular thrift stores except they are run entirely online.

You can browse through thousands of products at your leisure and buy whatever you wish to be delivered to your door.

woman shopping for used clothes in an online thrift store

You may be wondering how these online thrift stores differ from traditional thrift stores but they are very similar to each other.

There are many ways to shop online for second-hand clothes and you can use a specific website that sells used clothing, or you can search through a variety of used clothing websites to find your favorite.

When buying used clothing online, you should know exactly what you’re looking for before you start browsing since there is often so much to browse through.

The main difference between e-commerce stores and marketplaces that sell used goods online is if the site is operated by one vendor, or if it is a marketplace with listings made by a range of individual vendors.

As you are not able to see the physical piece up close before buying for yourself to look for damages, compare it to your size, or ensure the fabric is of high quality, you need to trust the seller as you are relying on their word alone.

what is thrifting (1)

That being said, if you can build a relationship with the seller, thrifting online is a fast and selective process, which can reduce the number of random items you need to wade through in a physical store.

Simply keep in mind what you are looking for and hit the search bar. You can even narrow down your search through filters if you are still deciding on a type of jacket for example.

Since online thrift stores are growing rapidly, they are improving how they cater to the interests of their audiences, so why not give it a go yourself! 

Vintage Clothing

Since thrifting does not specify the kinds of shops you will be looking in, apart from them being secondhand, the types of products can be extremely varied.

Some thrift stores specialize in selling high-end designer items. Other thrift stores are more affordable and less specialized.

Some vintage garments can sell for thousands of dollars, even though traditional thrifting was designed to reduce waste and cut costs.

Second Hand designer items and the rise in the demand for vintage clothing have raised the price tag on many secondhand items.

However, when considering this, other factors would have come into play such as the growth of the thrifting industry, inflation, the rise in sustainable fashion, and more.

American Thrift Culture

teen shopping in a thrift store for a blue vintage dress

In the United States, thrifting is very much popular again for teenagers especially. In addition to being a frugal option for those on a budget, teens appreciate the ability to get reasonably priced clothes that meet whatever aesthetic they are going for.

Whether they are looking for something from the 90’s, rock concert t-shirts or just funky pants, thrift stores allow modern teenagers the ability to find clothing that brings out their unique personality.

In fact, some teenagers have even found ways to profit by searching out awesome finds and then reselling them to their peers either directly or via various online clothing resale apps.

Malaysian Thrift Culture

Thrifting in Malaysia is thriving and many thrift stores in Kuala Lumpur seek to make that thrift shopping experience a tad simpler for people.

While the idea of luxury “curated” clothing selections may appear to be counterintuitive to the idea of sustainable pre-owned second-hand clothing, the OKGO thrift shop in Subang Jaya balances these ideas carefully.

Their owners are married couple Zamri Alif and Shakira Isaadora, who started this business after they found inspiration while visiting Japan in 2016.

vintage second hand clothes hanging on a thrift store rack

Shakira recalls how they were amazed by how cool, and aesthetically impressive their Thrift shops were, where music, art, and fashion played huge roles as part of the store concepts. 

OKGO was launched as a place that combines secondhand and vintage clothing alongside curated aesthetics, where customers can shop sustainably for the best stuff, but without having to shift through piles of unwanted old clothes.

Since then, thrift culture has reached its peak in Malaysia.

The Darker Side

Thrift culture in Malaysia and other places is a great thing if you know how to use it properly. But if you exploit people who want to buy second-hand clothes, then you’re doing something wrong.

You should respect other people’s rights to buy second-hand clothes.

This being said, exploiters of peak thrift culture make a profit by hoarding quality supplies from thrift stores then reselling them at much higher prices without any alterations or upcycling.

They take advantage of the consumer’s want for vintage and turn the act of thrifting into a total scam.

OKGO’s owners disapprove of overselling secondhand items to those new to thrifting as it forsakes the innocence and sustainable benefits of thrifting.

They believe thrifting is a community, not a scamming opportunity.

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you know everything you need to know about thrifting, from what it is, what the difference is between online and in-person thrift stores, and how it can lead you to find some cool vintage clothing items sustainably and often with a low price tag.

Thrifting is a great way to give secondhand items a second home and to help the planet by reducing waste. Happy thrifting!