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De-stigmatizing Second Hand Shopping

Second Hand, Thrifted, Re-sale, Pre-owned or Pre-loved are words often used to describe purchasing goods that were previously owned. The concept has existed for ages since people discovered the fun of Garage and Estate Sales, Antique Shops, Flea Markets, Vintage, and Luxury Consignment Stores. Now with online resale shops, the idea of purchasing something second-hand has been more glamorized as opposed to the stigma that once attached to it. 

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I remember when I was growing up, my parents would constantly buy us new clothes. It wasn’t necessarily high-end brands, but it was always new. When we grew out of them or would wear them out, we would pack it all up in giant suitcases, take it on our annual trips to the Dominican Republic, and donate it all to families in need while we enjoyed our vacation. So, in my mind, second-hand clothes, shoes, and stuff, in general, were meant for impoverished, or low-income families. It wasn’t ever discussed in a derogatory way, but my parents constantly made a point that we were very fortunate that with their hard-earned, working-class salaries they were always able to provide in a way that didn’t require hand-me-downs or second-hand shopping and we should give back at every opportunity we had, because that was the right thing to do. To this day I still follow this philosophy of giving back, but I don’t feel the same way about second-hand.


With a heightened awareness of the environmental dangers of the fashion industry, more people are eager to reduce their carbon footprint by shopping sustainably, and that includes second-hand. Well-known sustainable high-fashion designer, Stella McCartney has said she believes, “the future of fashion is circular, it will be restorative and regenerative by design and the clothes we love never end up as waste.” Although this would be an ideal scenario for the sustainable fashion movement, we are not there yet and the circularity of fashion lies within the resale, reuse, recycling, and up-cycling of threads and goods. In an article published by Forbes in 2018, 27% of secondhand consumers were motivated to buy for environmental reasons, and among Millennials, it was 35%. This movement, of course, also is accompanied by a cultural shift. The stigma is lifted with the language that makes second-hand a symbol of a conscious shopper and adds value with authenticity,  finding a vintage luxury piece at a reasonable price. I personally take pride in that fact and enjoy telling people that a certain item was thrifted!

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So, what does mainstream second-hand shopping mean, culturally? Well, aside from normalizing it, people are more inclined to shop without a feeling of shame, or guilt, and now even brag about it! I do think there is a thrill in finding incredible pieces from people’s closets or from decades past at affordable prices, or finding that luxury vintage piece that you can’t find anywhere else. The kicker is, I started thrifting to find those special pieces of clothing, jewelry, shoes, accessories, and household goods to treasure for myself because of my desire to lessen my carbon footprint and another step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, not necessarily out of need. Now, with unemployment at an all-time high and the financial uncertainty that this brings in the U.S., more families are finding that shopping second-hand is a viable alternative in order to save money and continue to afford other basic necessities like rent or mortgages, food, and utilities. "Americans could begin to change their spending habits in the fallout from this pandemic... More people are embracing frugality or thrift.", stated Marketplace.

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Today, consignment stores offer you compensation for goods turned in for resale. Now, online resale shops allow you to turn your slightly worn items into cash, so this form of shopping/selling has turned into an economy on itself, where people have been able to turn it into an alternate form of income. "Even as the retail industry has slumped, dragged down by disappointing earnings and an unending trade war, resale is exploding.", reported Forbes. Of course, in the wake of the Pandemic, more people are resorting to online shopping, while the appeal of a bargain hunt continues to increase among the younger generations. So, between the bargain hunt, environmental consciousness, and the unstable economy, this all is the perfect recipe to destigmatize second-hand shopping. Somehow, it’s become more accessible, relatable, and even cool. This leads us to the Goodwill San Antonio online shop. In an effort to connect with Millennials or the younger, more tech-savvy Gen-Z, their online store experience is very similar to that of eBay, where you’re able to bid on your items. In fact, Goodwill San Antonio is also selling items on the eBay platform and OfferUp, as well. I remember when I used to buy almost everything on eBay, and the rush of winning my bid was truly incredible! Now having this option with a very positive cause attached to it, is all the motivation I need to start placing my bids on the Goodwill SA shop site, but that’s an experience I’ll be sharing with you later. 

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With Goodwill San Antonio, the benefits surpass just shopping for bargain items and treasured finds. Their work with the community is extremely important, from Youth Services to Direct Employment, Career Training, and Job Placement, Goodwill San Antonio has provided a way to help people through these uncertain times. The New York Times stated, "There is little doubt that buying habits will change after the pandemic, becoming more deliberate, out of both economic necessity and a shift in values.” What was once considered to be a negative stigma, second-hand shopping is now on the rise more than ever, surpassing projections over fast fashion sales in 2020, as seen in the 2020 impact report for ThredUp.


Whether you are looking for a way to be a more conscious shopper, trying to pinch your pennies, or help those in need it’s clear that thrifting is becoming more mainstream than ever. 


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