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How To Get Good at Thrifting (Online and Offline)

In the past few years, buying items second hand has become wildly popular. According to Planet Aid, in 2017 40% of 18-24 year-olds shopped at thrift stores and second-hand shops. Apps like Poshmark, ThredUp, and Depop have contributed greatly to this movement, allowing users to sell their trendy, gently used clothing on a safe platform. Not only is thrifting incredibly budget-friendly, but it’s also much better for the environment than buying new clothes and items. 

The “fast fashion” model is both unethical and unsustainable. They sell clothes at an attractive, low cost, however, the quality is subpar and often the people making the clothes are paid unfair wages and work in dangerous conditions. You can read more about it here, or if you want to learn more in-depth, by reading Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas. 

Many people turn up their noses at the idea of thrift shopping because they don’t like the idea of used clothes, they think thrift stores smell weird, or get overwhelmed at the number of options. Luckily, due to resale becoming more and more popular, there are plenty of new and accessible ways to accumulate items in an environmentally friendly manner. 

Thrifting is sustainable, budget-friendly, and often times can be fun! Here are my tips for buying secondhand goods both online and in-person. 

A picture of clothes on racks at a clothing store
Prudence Earl

Look To Resale First

If you need a new item, look around at thrift shops, online second-hand stores, or even the Facebook marketplace. For example, if you’re moving into a new apartment, it is so easy to find furniture and decor on the Facebook marketplace. Pieces like shelves and tables are sold in abundance by other students who are also frequently moving and downsizing. 

If there’s a trendy piece of clothing you want, try looking to online thrifting platforms like Poshmark or Depop to see if anyone is selling it first. 


Look At ALL Sections

When you’re shopping at a resale store, don’t be afraid to spend extensive time there and take the time to look at all of the sections and sizes. Sizes often vary so it is definitely worth it to scan through all of the size sections. You may find some great pieces in clothing sections you might not otherwise shop as well. I’ve found some of my favourite sweaters in the men’s section of Goodwill. The book and furniture area are also good places to look at. I’ve found several books I’ve been wanting to read for ages at resale shops.

Try Everything On

If you’re shopping for clothes, it is worth it to try on everything you like. Since the clothes are used, they may fit differently than they would if they were new. That way you can avoid throwing it back into a donation pile once you get home. I hate trying clothes on, so I used to just purchase second-hand clothes without trying them on, but when I got home I would re-donate half of them because they didn’t fit right. Trying on your finds will save you money and time later on. 

Look to Online Thrifting

Like I mentioned above, there are a myriad of websites where people sell their second-hand items. Poshmark, Depop, and ThredUp are excellent for buying clothes. AbeBooks sells inexpensive books (and sometimes you may even find textbooks!).

Sell Stuff Online

With apps like Poshmark, you can easily sell your clothes on a safe platform and earn credit to buy more clothes on the app. If you have clothing or decor that isn’t your style anymore, you can easily give it to someone who will appreciate it more and you’ll earn some extra cash. In return, you’ll be able to purchase items you’ll feel great in and wear longer.

Be Mindful

When stuff is so inexpensive, it can be tempting to buy everything you like. But if you buy too many items you eventually won’t use or like in a few months, it is just as wasteful. Accumulating too much defeats the purpose of sustainable thrifting. When buying something, think: do I need this? Will I still like this in a few months? Is it comfortable/fitting/trendy/etc.?

Sarah Bubenheimer

Concordia CA '22

Sarah Bubenheimer is a fourth year student at Concordia studying Philosophy, Law & Society, and Western Society & Culture. She is a Councillor for the Concordia Student Union and the Academic & Accessibility Coordinator for the Students of Philosophy Association. She is passionate about lattes, lipstick, and philosophy, and can always be found at a cafe listening to Taylor Swift. 
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