Thoughts on Thrifting

By: Juliette Levy-Gay

Recently, thrift shopping, or “thrifting,” has become very popular among teenagers like myself. There are countless benefits to thrifting, including positive effects on the environment, your bank account, and your personal style. In this article, I will outline some of these benefits, a few drawbacks (because they do exist), as well as a few of my favorite places on the west side to go thrifting for anyone new to thrifting or any pro-thrifters just wanting to expand their search! 

First things first, there are countless reasons to go thrifting, especially for those in high school. To start, it does wonders for the environment. Currently, the number of textiles being thrown into landfills or burned can fill up one whole garbage truck every second. It’s predicted that by 2050, one-quarter of the global carbon budget will be consumed by the fashion industry alone. Furthermore, textiles leak 500 thousand tons of microfibers—approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles—into the ocean each year. These textiles are then consumed by sea animals and sometimes even end up making their way back onto our plates. They say you get what you deserve, right?

Moreover, thrifting can save you from spending WAY too much money on clothes. Of course, if there is something specific you are looking for, then go ahead and get it from wherever, but it’s surprising how much you can find at the right thrift store for so much cheaper. A common misconception about thrifting is that second-hand stores only sell clothes of random and lesser-known brands, but this is not true at all. I cannot tell you how many Aritzia tops I’ve found while thrifting or how many pairs of quality Levi’s jeans I’ve come across for half their original price. If you know where to go, the amount of money you can save is incredible. 

Finally, thrifting is a great way to figure out your sense of style. The clothing that flows into second-hand stores comes from a wide range of communities. You tend to see very similar pieces when browsing through a regular store, as each store usually has its own vibe or style. However, when thrifting, there are no limits to what you can find. Through thrift stores, I have discovered which styles are for me and which are not. 

Despite everything, there are still some people that would rather shop from regular stores, and that’s totally fine! I understand that the thought of wearing used clothes can be less than appealing, but just know that the vast majority of thrift stores use in-depth sanitizing techniques before putting the incoming items on display (and the thrift stores that don’t, you don’t want to go to, anyway). There are also certain clothing items that even I wouldn’t purchase from a second-hand store! 

Another drawback to thrifting is that second-hand items are not always in perfect condition when they are put up for sale. Some items have rips or stains or are damaged in some way, but the chances are that if they are hanging on a rack, the damage can’t be all that bad. Again though, if that grosses you out or just doesn’t sit right with you, no problem!

Now, if you’ve never thrifted before and need some ideas for where to shop or if you thrift regularly and are just looking for more stores, here are a few of my favorites! 

*Disclaimer: the ratings and comments below are based on my experiences at these stores. Your experiences and preferences may differ. It really depends on the day, your style, and the store.*

  1. The BC SPCA Thrift Store

I love the SPCA thrift store because it has so much variation for such a small store. They have a large women’s section, a smaller men’s section, an area for household items, and a selection of artwork and furniture on the side of the building. You never know what you’ll find there! It’s located on Broadway and Dunbar, near WPGA. 

  1. The Salvation Army Thrift Store

The Salvation Army Thrift Store is one of my favorites because they have so much for sale. Alongside their extensive clothing and shoe section, they also sell lots of household items in addition to a great selection of bags, purses, and artwork. You can find The Salvation Army Thrift Store on West Broadway and Macdonald.

  1. Turnabout

Turnabout is less of a thrift store and is classified as “luxury resale” instead. This means the clothing they sell is of much better quality than at other second-hand stores, and they often sell more expensive brands. Although this means their items are more pricey, It’s worth it if you’re paying $50 for something that would otherwise be $150. Turnabout has a few stores in Vancouver: they are located on Broadway and Balaclava, 16th and Granville, 13th and Main, and Fraser and King Edward. 

  1. The Rag Machine 

The Rag Machine is a vintage and thrift store with great items and amazing sales. They have a wide assortment of clothing and accessories, too! Personally, I’ve found that you can find some pretty awesome sunglasses at this store. Rag Machine can be found on 7th and Main.

  1. Value Village

Despite being seen as a bit of a junkyard by many people, I can assure you that Value Village does a great job of sanitizing and sorting their donations. Again, you never know what you might find at Value Village as its stores are so massive and have such a huge selection. I like to make a trip there if I just need clothes in general! The two Value Village stores that I visit regularly are on East Hastings and Victoria Dr and on 48th and Victoria Dr, but there are multiple other stores in Richmond, New Westminster, Coquitlam, and Surrey. 

Happy thrifting!

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