Shopping second-hand is the move

Students at VTSU Castleton thrift to save money and find unique clothes. Reilly Tennis thrifts a hat.

Thrifting has become very popular in the last years.   

 It’s perfect for people who are trying to save money and want to look good while doing it.  

However, it’s not just the clothes.  

“I like to thrift because it saves me money mostly. And I just love all the random things you can find too. I mostly just go for clothes but sometimes you can find some hidden treasures in like the dishes section or accessories and stuff. I found a Coach wallet for $10 once! But mostly because I’m tight on money and I love to shop,” said Vermont State University at Castleton student Reilly Tennis, a regular thrifter.  

Thrifting can also bring people a new freedom they might not have found if they were shopping in first-hand, higher-end stores or websites.  

“I think that thrifting allows you to find more unique pieces than like if you were to otherwise go on a fast fashion website or something like that,” said student Rosie Phalen.  

“I think that it lets you have a little bit more freedom over what you wear. I think there’s a vaster selection of more interesting clothes that aren’t just like throw away trends or microtrends.” 

Thrifters say these days, people value individuality much more than they used to.  

In years past, everyone wanted to look uniform, and it was considered weird if you stood out.  

Abby Murphy makes a thrifted dress into a top.

“It’s a lot more rewarding when someone says, ‘I like your top where’d you get it’ and I get to say, ‘I made it or I thrifted this’ because it’s a lot less likely that I’ll be wearing the same clothes as everyone else when I thrift flip or just find it at a thrift store,” said  student Abby Murphy, who often alters and flips a lot of the pieces she finds. 

Some, like Murphy, like to alter and flip their thrift finds into something entirely new.  

Phalen doesn’t flip a ton of her thrift finds, but she does alter the occasional piece, which can come with a sense of pride after completing the effort.  

“Skirts are always a little bit complicated because there’s so much flowing fabric and its circular. I think I’ve always been more proud of those projects because they’re more complicated,” she said. 

Murphy agrees. 

“I like to alter them and make them fit me without having to specifically buy clothes in my size, so I learned to sew when I was like 10. But I’m not very good at like patterns and completely making a new shirt from just a piece of fabric, so that’s why I like to thrift flip, because the layout is already done,” Murphy said. 

Murphy’s favorite flip was a dress the was long and not the most flattering, but she turned it into a cute wrap top with the same lacy sleeves and neckline from the original.  

Some thrifters go into shops with a grocery list of pieces they want to find. Like a plain white tee as a staple for their closet.   

“If I have a specific thing in mind that’s like, ‘I want to find this,’ then I’ll check a thrift store to find the cheapest option rather than going on like Amazon,” Murphy said. 

“A lot of times when I’m planning on thrifting something, I just look for like the basic materials that I need at the thrift store and then work from that. Rather than buying an expensive white shirt I’m going to destroy.”  

A lot of thrift store shoppers, however, prefer to go in open-minded.  

“I don’t usually go in with like a plan unless I’ve had something in mind like either something I’ve found on Pinterest or TikTok or even seen someone else wearing something,” Tennis said. “I usually just go in with an open mind and even if I don’t end up getting anything, I love a good search anyway. Right now, I’m looking for a maxi denim skirt and a pair of overalls I haven’t been lucky so far.”  

Phalen is another who likes to go in with no plan at all.  

“It just lets you pick through it for hours and hours until you find something really cool. I think whenever I find the most interesting pieces is whenever I don’t have a plan,” she said.  

In recent years, there has been quite a change in the stigma around thrifting.  Now it is considered cool to thrift and find one of-a-kind pieces for a great price. It’s considered almost a sport to be able to have that skill. 

But not so long ago, it was seen as almost shameful for people to shop second-hand.  

“I think especially when I was younger thrifting seemed kind of like a faux pas or a little bit taboo and it was sort of exclusively for poor people, like there was some shame around thrifting,”  Phalen said. “Versus now, it’s like whenever I find a really cool piece, I’ve been happy to come out and say, ‘I thrifted this’ instead of being like ‘I bought this brand new, online.’ I think that socially, people think it’s cooler when you thrift versus if your whole closet is like Shein.”

But there’s a new downside to the thrifting craze.   

With thrifting gaining popularity, many stores have raised their prices. 

A shirt that once costed maybe $5 or $10, is now $30 to $50.  

“Goodwill’s prices have gone up a lot, which is really aggravating because now there’s some shirts that are like $20, which is the same price, I could get at a non-thrift store and considering they [Goodwill] get all of their stuff for free and they’re not increasing their workers’ wages and things like that is just aggravating,” Murphy said. 

“It’s become a give or take of thrifting isn’t as stigmatized as it once was but now since it’s so trendy it makes it a little less accessible to people,” Phalen said.  

But despite some increased prices, the thrifters are still finding deals and enjoying the chase.  

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone that doesn’t like saving a buck or two and it also doesn’t contribute to fast fashion trends, which is great for our environment. I think it’s great for anyone to save money while buying from second-hand,” Tennis said.

Reilly Tennis thrifts a sweater.

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