In this day and age, vintage clothes and accessories are a precious item for most people. This phenomenon has increased general population’s interest in this type of clothing, which explains the exponential growth of thrift shops. But first, what is a thrift shop? It’s a place where you can buy all kinds of second-hand goods for a relatively low price.
However, you might be thinking, what’s the real opinion about these stores? Unlike the previous popular belief which thought that thrift shops were strictly for poor people, the perception of thrifting has shifted radically for a part of the society, who see it as a spectacular opportunity to find “hidden treasures” or vintage articles, supported by the fact that people are less scrupulous. People also prefer this alternative way of shopping due to the fact that less material is used and it is more eco-friendly than buying brand new items. This switch has been reflected in popular culture, as shown in the famous song “Thrift shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which has 1,235,000,000 views on Youtube and was considered one of the top hits of 2013.
Regarding the history behind emergence of thrift shops, second hand clothes and articles have been used throughout history as no possessions were ever wasted. This fact changed with the introduction of the mass production of clothing, making it more affordable to acquire new clothes. Moreover, the stigma attached to wearing used clothes contributed to this change too. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the first thrift shop appeared in the United States: an operation imposed by the Salvation Army to hire poor and disabled people to collect goods and make any necessary repairs. However, the thrift shops as we know them nowadays as organized department stores, appeared in the 1920’s. Before that time, they were referred to as junk shops — the name changed to ‘thrift shops’ to appeal middle-class people.
In the period after the Second World War, the thrift shop business boomed as people increasingly donated their belongings so they could spend the money earned in redecorating their homes and refreshing their wardrobes. In the 1950’s, the business changed dramatically. Wealthy people started coveting vintage clothes and furniture and they considered that thrift shops were excellent places to find unique couture at a more affordable price.
At the turn of the 21st century, the internet changed the game. Today, it is much easier to find second hand goods on web pages such as Ebay or Wallapop, so you don’t have to go to a thrift shop to buy it. But this doesn’t mean thrift shops are going to disappear. On the contrary, thrift shops are part of a $14.4 billion industry and the levels of consumption in these shops have increased especially after the economic crisis of 2008.
If these kinds of shops seem interesting to you and you want to take a look or experience it first hand, you can visit some in in Sant Cugat (“Okane”,“Era Meu”) and in Barcelona (“Texas Thrift Shop”, “Rastro Retro”).