Thrifting in 2022: Where are the quality items?

In a New York Times piece titled “The Golden Age of Thrifting is Over” a columnist explores the trend of fast fashion items filling up the racks at thrift stores.

“The ability to find high-quality, well-made things is definitely on the wane,” says long-term thrifty shopper Megan Miller. The premise of this article is that years ago, there were thrift stores packed with high quality things (i.e. natural fibers, durable handmade construction, etc), but now in 2022, because the public is primarily buying cheap clothing from H&M, thrift stores are now a disappointment zone filled with polyester shirts and polyurethane shoes.

If there was a golden age of thrifting, and it’s now over, what changed? In my opinion, the notable change was our move from brick-and-mortar retail to online shopping – which gave birth to online resale.

Charity stores always had a glut of low quality clothes to sort through in a search for a wearable piece. Now, you simply cannot find anything good. All you find is the cheap stuff, whether it comes from Kohls, Target, or any of the fast fashion brands that are mentioned in the press.

The quality clothing is now found online. It may never land in thrift stores, or when it does, it’s routinely removed from retail stores and posted online. People are now fully aware that when you reach the right audience with your merchandise, the full value of that item can be realized. The coat that sold for $6 at a charity shop is worth $60 online. You can easily guess what happens next.

So thrift shoppers lamenting a lack of quality at charity stores may blame fast fashion, because that’s all they see, but if anything is to blame it’s the rise of online commerce.

You can do your thrift shopping online. It’s not the same experience as hunting for treasures at the Salvation Army store, but it can be fun, and ridicuous deals do happen, just like they did in the golden age.

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Image by Phillip Pessar on Flickr