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Why people don't thrift

Here are 6 reasons why people avoid thrift shops -- and arguments against all of them.

By Karen Datko Dec 3, 2009 10:04AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Recently I conducted a quiet poll among friends and family concerning whether or not they shop at thrift stores. I received a few “yes” answers, but a surprisingly large number of “no” answers. Without arguing about the reasons, I also asked them why they don't shop at thrift stores and I found that there were six common answers.

Here are those six reasons, and I’ll argue why they’re completely false.


Thrift store stuff is dirty. I wash most things I buy no matter where I buy them. If I buy a new article of clothing, a towel, flatware, a toy, or so on, I wash it in order to remove plastic and chemical residue, and germs from others handling the item in the store. I do the same thing with thrift store stuff. Even if it is a bit dirty, so what? I’m thoroughly cleaning it anyway.


Wash thrift store items, just as you would wash many items purchased elsewhere.


Thrift store stuff is used. Yes, thrift store items are used. Do you throw out every item you have just because you used it once or twice? Probably not, unless you discover the shirt doesn’t fit you or the item doesn’t work for you. Then you just might be taking it to the thrift store.


Thrift store stuff is used, but a surprising amount of it is “barely used,” virtually indistinguishable from new.


Thrift stores don't have the name brands my children (or I) must have. Let your children make that judgment. Take them to the thrift store and let them go crazy digging through the racks. Offer to buy them pretty much anything they find. You might just be shocked at what they find.


If you’re the one with the brand phobia, just go there and look around. I constantly find things I’m very happy to wear.


Buy what you like, not what the labels tell you to like.


Thrift store stuff is out-of-date. Some items never go out-of-date. What exactly is an out-of-date knife, for instance? For items that do go out-of-date, they often have a “retro” cachet (like an Atari 2600 console) or, like some clothes, they go in and out of style all the time.


Define for yourself what’s out-of-date and what isn’t. Look at the items available and choose what you like.


Thrift store stuff is ugly. Yes, we’ve all seen the horribly tacky items that people proudly proclaim they picked up at a thrift store. Guess what? You can’t blame a lack of taste on the retailer. If someone buys an ugly item, it’s the person’s lack of taste that is the problem, not the retailer.


Choose stuff you like and leave behind the stuff you don’t.


I don’t know where to start. Some people avoid thrift stores simply because they’ve never gone to one. If that’s you, it’s time to try something new, because thrift stores are often excellent places to find the very things you need.


Find a local store and make it a point to visit.


There’s really no reason not to give thrifting a shot. It’s a great way to find inexpensive things you need, you’re reusing items instead of throwing them in the landfill, and it’s a lot of fun to boot.


Related reading at The Simple Dollar:

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