By Lindsey Harris
Whether thrift stores were made popular by Macklemore’s 2012 smash hit, the underground music scene or in an effort to combat climate change, there is no denying that what was once only a resource for struggling families has also become a staple of contemporary college culture.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” said senior psychology major Lindsey Seidman. “It can really spice up your wardrobe.”
From oversized flannels to discounted furniture, students at the College have turned to the Goodwill on Olden Avenue to add a vintage twist to their dorm rooms and wardrobes without breaking the bank. Even designer clothes that look second hand or distressed are all the rage in upscale stores like Urban Outfitters and Free People.
“My favorite item I thrifted is a pair of Sam Edelmen sneakers,” Seidman said. “I went to Plato’s Closet and found these shoes which were brand new, trendy and my size—I bought them for $17 and they were originally $85. It was a steal.”
Although many students use Goodwill for a trendy but cheap route to style, thrifting isn’t always for fashion—sometimes it is for pure necessity. What is now a popular pastime and fashion statement was once only seen as a lifeline for low income families.
Goodwill Industries International is a non-profit organization that spends 88 percent of its cash budget on programs and only 12 percent on company overhead, according to Charity Watch. These programs are geared towards job training and career services for those with disabilities or disadvantages.
“Each Goodwill is unique in the programs it offers and how it operates its business, because each of the communities we serve are unique,” according to the organization’s website.
According to the Association of Resale Professionals, 16 to 18 percent of Americans will shop at a thrift store in a given year, surpassing factory outlet malls and nearing major department stores. Goodwill has proved useful to Mike Hoppe, a senior communication studies major, in helping him furnish his off-campus home with a one of a kind look.
“I got a cool red couch for $15,” Hoppe said. “I can’t count how many times people have said ‘Yo, where’d you get that?’ and the answer is Goodwill.”
But furniture isn’t the only thing Hoppe thrifts for.
“I like to thrift because I’m broke and I like the baggy 90’s look, or finding things that blend in on the rack and turn out to be super unique,” he said.
Those in the market to thrift don’t always have to go to a Goodwill or Salvation army to find the vintage pieces you’re looking for. Apps like Poshmark and Curtsy allow users to both profit from selling their own clothes and shop for new looks.
“I thrift a lot online,” Seidman said. “I really like Poshmark because I can find things that are relatively new and sometimes the item is still selling in stores.”
Liz Clark, a senior marketing major, has found shopping at thrift stores to be both an enjoyable hobby and an effective way to promote sustainability.
“It can take a while to sort through the racks for the perfect find, so thrifting can be a great pass time,” she said. “I’m also a huge fan of reusing clothes. Finding something you love while also doing your part to save the environment is a great feeling.”