Are vintage stores killing the spirit of thrift?


Picture this: You’re walking through the aisles at your local thrift store when you stumble across a shirt made by your favourite designer. You’re overjoyed when you see that the price tag says $3.99.

Now, imagine that exact same shirt, but for $60. Which would you rather purchase?

The answer may seem obvious, but according to Rebecca Morgan, a professional “thrift picker,” it’s not as obvious as one might think. She is the former owner of a business that was based on purchasing cheap things at thrift stores and reselling them online for a large profit.

“The way it would work was that I would go into a thrift store and hunt for cool or designer clothing and get it for less than five bucks a piece. After that, I’d resell it for about five times the original price online. Sometimes more,” she says.

After sewing up minor rips and washing out stains, Morgan would post the item to her Etsy store under the title of “vintage.” Although she has since become too busy to run the store and shut it down late last year, she claims that she was averaging about $250 extra dollars a month.

“My whole business was based around me knowing that people are too lazy to go out and thrift for themselves,” Morgan says. “It can be hard work, and a lot of people don’t really want to bother. A huge part of the reason it was such a success was also due the packaging, because I could get a necklace for about two dollars, but as soon as I packaged it up in a box with a nice ribbon, the value went up to $30. It’s really amazing what people will pay for when you call it vintage and package it nicely.”

Navneet Atwal, an employee at Value Village, argues, “Thrift stores just have a bad rep. People think of them as dirty, and places where you shop if you’re poor. On the other hand, vintage stores are considered chic and trendy, which I don’t get. It’s crazy, because I see the stuff they sell in vintage stores and it’s the exact same stuff we have here. They literally buy it from here, and then resell it. The only difference is that they charge way more at their stores.”

Atwal also points out that most thrift stores are for a cause, while vintage stores usually are not. By shopping at thrift stores, not only do the customers save money, but they usually help out an organization or charity.

“It’s just as easy to come to a thrift store as it is to go to a vintage store,” Atwal says. “All of the clothes they sell come from thrift stores anyways, so customers might as well just buy from the source. It’s better to just buy the stuff while it’s still cheap, before the vintage buyers come in a snatch it all up.”


Journalism student at KPU.

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