COMMENTARY: Shop while supporting your local community

COMMENTARY: Shop while supporting your local community
National Thrift Shop Day (Source: Gray TV)

(Gray News) - Happy National Thrift Shop Day! Did you know shopping at your local thrift stores can directly benefit your community?

I wandered into my first thrift store in 2014 when I was a junior in college. It was a tiny, cramped store full of random treasures. I left that store, which supports veterans, with a shirt that I still wear to this day! From that point on, I slowly started checking out the thrift stores in my hometown and anywhere I traveled. Thrifting wasn’t considered “cool” yet so I mostly kept this newfound hobby to myself. Thankfully, thrift shopping is more widely accepted now that more people are informed about the benefits of shopping secondhand.

It wasn’t until August 2019 that I decided to challenge myself. I decided that for one year, I would only purchase secondhand clothes for a few reasons.

1. I enjoy shopping, but my wallet was getting a bit burnt out.

2. I was tired of being influenced to buy trendy items that I would only wear a handful of times.

3. I felt better about supporting my local thrift shops as opposed to major retailers.

You might be wondering, did you do it? Did you only purchase secondhand clothes for 1 year?

No, I did not. I did for about 6 months until the pandemic, at which point all thrift stores were closed.

Even so, the challenge allowed me to learn so much about the thrifting world as well as make friends in the thrifting community, discover my personal style and build a social platform where I show off my thrifted pieces and promote my local thrift stores.

When some local stores heard about my one-year challenge, a couple of them took interest and showed me around their corporate locations, where I learned new information. Here are some things I have learned from shop operators that you might not know about thrift stores:

  • Thrift stores have a greater mission. Each store usually has a greater cause that they directly support or provide for financially.
  • Thrift stores support local causes such as job and financial training, food pantries, health services, humane societies and more.
  • Most thrift stores are nonprofits, so the money they make from selling your donations will go toward the causes they support.
  • Don’t throw away items that you don’t think are sellable! If soft goods are not able to be sold, they can be recycled and repurposed for things such as the inside cushion of a car seat.
  • Most stores will have extra discounted days in order to encourage purchasing certain items at the end of a season or sell items that have been at the store for a longer period of time.
  • Purchasing secondhand clothes is better for the environment! The more items you purchase from thrift stores instead of new, the fewer items that will end up in a landfill later on.
  • Don’t worry about donating Valentine’s Day items in August, most stores will save seasonal items and put them out when the time is right.

These facts are not true for every thrift shop. Be sure to do your research on thrift shops in your area.

Shop and donate to support your local community. Happy thrifting!

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