Thrift Shop Observations

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It's Tuesday, which feels like Monday because I spent Monday with my friend Nan on a thrifting excursion. Something interesting is happening at thrift stores. I've never seen anything like it in my many, many years as a thrifter. 

Thrift stores are getting BUSY! 

Concurrently, prices are going up.

I abandoned a fabulous little mid-century ashtray yesterday after deciding the wait wasn't worth my time. The line was epic, and people waiting had overflowing shopping carts. It was 3 o'clock on a Monday afternoon. It's the same thing no matter what time or day I thrift lately, epic lines, furious activity! 

"Who are these people? Don't they have jobs?" Asks the writer who spent the day wandering through dusty thrift shops. 

Then I heard a couple in the shoe aisle yelling brand names to each other, "BCBG! Guess! Ann Taylor!"

A ha, re-sellers!

More and more people are realizing they can make money buying crap from thrift shops and reselling it online. Keying into this phenomenon, thrift shops are trying to get a bigger slice of that pie. The thing is, if they raise prices too high, there won't be any room for re-sellers to make a profit. If this trend continues, thrift stores may become less busy. This will be better for the portion of the shoppers who are people on a budget in search of clothing and goodies at deep discounts. These folks are just shopping for bargains. There are lots of bargains to be found still, if you're savvy. Different color tags go on sale every week, Goodwill has a shopper's card for discount prices, some thrift shops offer senior discounts, and a little time spent digging can yield bargains that the folks doing the pricing have missed.

Then, there are bins. The bins are much busier than they used to be. This is because re-sellers can make a lot more money buying from the bins. If you're willing to get down and dirty, you can find all sorts of stuff in the bins. They are filled with crap you have to dig through and people can get downright aggressive. They'll toss crap at you without a care. I don't go to the bins too often, because I'm not a big re-seller and rude people drive me to distraction. Also, I have ADHD and it's sensory overload. Though I just sold a book I found in the bins for a quarter for 120 dollars to a rare book dealer. He'll likely sell it for more than twice that much to a collector.

Not too shabby, eh?

Some of the shops we hit yesterday were outrageously overpriced. I would not balk at this as much if they'd clean things up and display their crap in a manner that reflected their rising prices. You can't look like a junk shop and charge antique store prices. Or you can, but I'm sure as heck not going to buy from you. Also, a thrift store is a not an antique store. Nothing is curated, and it's all donated. A junk shop is not an antique store, nothing is curated and it's usually a hodge-podge. I have a theory that most junk shop owners are hoarders who want to pretend they are willing to part with their hoard, but the higher the prices, the lower their desire to sell. Antique shops are curated, there are booths, they are carefully maintained and displayed. Thrift shops and junk stores offer random piles of dirty, dusty, funky smelling stuff jammed on overflowing shelves without any thematic relevance. It's tossed willy and nilly and much of it is truly the crappiest of the crappy. I will give Goodwill credit for displaying their knick-knacks by color, but it's still mostly junk that has not been curated or edited or thoughtfully arrayed. Finding treasure in the trove of trash requires persistence. 

I went thrifting yesterday with my friend Nan, and we were both surprised at the rising prices and the plethora of other shoppers. It will be interesting to see if these trends continue. In the meantime, I have some new Crap I Found at Thrift Stores videos for your thrift-ertainment which I have sprinkled throughout this post.