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Life

The Dark Side of Depop

Goodwill, Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet. Growing up, thrift and consignment shops like these
were all I knew. As a middle-class family with only a one parent income at some points, my family did
not have the means to buy name-brand, expensive clothes for us, so we turned to thrifting. I still
remember our weekly trips to Once Upon a Child and Goodwill where my mom would donate or trade-
in our old clothes while we shopped for “new” clothes. Even now, as an eighteen-year-old college kid, I
still shop primarily at stores like Goodwill, and why not? You get cheap clothes that are still pretty good
quality all while shopping effectively and avoiding fast fashion. Even as a kid I never saw an issue with
how I shopped. I was able to get so many new clothes despite my family’s low income and I was simply
oblivious to the fact that these clothes weren’t new. Thrift and consignment stores were a saving grace
for my family when I was a kid. Without them, I wouldn’t have had too many clothing options and I
wouldn’t have been able to develop the style I have now which has boosted my self confidence and
given me a sense of identity. Sadly, my story may be one of the last like this as thrift stores are slowly
falling out of reach for families like mine. Why you may ask? Many factors point to online sellers, the
most well known being Depop.
Depop is a shopping app where people become sellers and post clothes they want to sell. Many
compare it to a cross between eBay and Instagram. So why is this app leading to the gentrification of
thrift stores? In many cases, Depop sellers gain most of their inventory from thrift stores, where they
buy items for cheap and sell them for much higher prices on their Depop page. Such actions have been
likened to the concept of gentrification, the process of renovating and improving a district so that it
conforms to middle-class taste. This may not seem like a bad thing and although gentrification is great
for upper class families, it severely hurts middle- and lower-class families, displacing them from the area
that has been gentrified. Thrift stores then see that they are gaining more upper-class consumers and
thus raise their prices to make more money. These higher prices make it almost impossible for low
income families to afford thrifted clothes and they now have no where to turn for affordable fashion.
Now, if you are from the upper class, you do not need to stop shopping at thrift stores
completely. Instead, be more conscientious of what you are buying. Only buy clothes you know you are
going to wear and make sure to donate your own clothes when you are done with them. Thrifting is an
amazing way to shop. It helps to avoid fashion fast as well as the excessive waste created by the
manufacturing of new clothing. Thrifting is a great help to our environment and society, but when used
in the wrong way, it can be detrimental. For those who use thrifting and Depop in the wrong way, think
about those low-income families. The kids and teens who are only able to shop at Goodwill. That one
piece of clothing on the rack that is actually in style and could quite possibly give those kids the boost of
confidence they need after the shame they might feel for buying second-hand clothes. Instead, it ends
up on a Depop page somewhere and a privileged upper-class teen buys it for hundreds of dollars.
Be an informed consumer and know the effect your buying and selling has on others. I want
more kids to grow up like I did and for more parents to not have to worry about being able to afford
clothes for their children. Don’t let my story be the last of its kind.

University of Indianapolis Professional Writing and Creative Writing Major
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