North Texas Daily

Thrift reselling is unethical

Thrift reselling is unethical

Thrift reselling is unethical
September 21
15:00 2020

Reselling thrift items for three times the price they paid for it has been popularized through online shopping platforms like Depop. Reselling these items at a heightened price contributes to the gentrification of thrift stores, actively harming low-income communities as it takes away affordable clothing and items.

Thrifting has recently became popularized, turning its stigma from shameful to trendy. Young people are crowding thrift stores nationwide in order to find new and cool second-hand pieces to add to their closet, all at cheap and affordable prices. Not to add that the wave of thrifting has induced a positive wave of sustainable and environmentally friendly way of purchasing clothes.

The use of online shopping platforms like Depop has spread like rapid fire. These platforms allow people to buy, sell and exchange clothing, shoes and accessories at a fast pace. Users reselling thrifted items for a quick profit has infected the apps, growing in popularity every day. Selling $3 shirts from the thrift for $30 online, however, does not sound ethical.

According to a 2010 Pennsylvania State University study, lower-income families thrift more frequently for clothing, furniture and household items, whereas higher-income individuals thrift less frequently for antiques and trinkets. Low-income communities view thrifting as a necessity and higher-income individuals view thrifting as a commodity. Reselling thrift items for higher prices and profiting off something that people largely depend on is what makes this practice unethical.

The gentrification of thrift stores causes prices to increase, making access to affordable clothing and items much more difficult for lower-income communities. Gentrification is commonly defined as a process in which the movement of middle-class or wealthy people into poorer areas, bringing renovations and building of new homes and businesses and, therefore, an increase in prices and displacement of low-income residents. As thrifting popularizes, the consumer demographic shifts into one including members of the middle or upper class. This thus causes thrift stores to shift their prices to suit their new, wealthier consumers and displace their primary, low-income consumers. After all, they are trying to make money too.

Thrift stores are maximizing off the growing popularity and consumer rates. With the change in demographics, they were able to focus on changing their prices depending on how much their customers would be willing to pay. Higher-income individuals mean higher affordability and profit. Their changing view on the value of clothing is best shown through the difference between Goodwill’s 2010 and 2020 donation valuation guide. Goodwill, today, charges a large range of prices instead of a fixed cost on items. The popularization of thrifting and reselling have everything to do with this.

Resellers surging thrift stores for cool, trendy finds and buying in bulk are ultimately taking away from low-income communities in bulk. Thrifting is not wrong but profiting off something that people need in order to maintain their standard of living is. It is unethical and maintains itself on classist ideals.

Second-hand shopping is one of the best ways to minimizing our contribution to unethical fashion industries. Clothing is being recycled rather than thrown away, fewer resources are being used to produce new clothing, and pollution from clothing production is decreased. It is a better alternative to fast fashion, shying the public away from contributing to exploitative labor practices and environmental degradation. However, the negative impacts the popularization of thrifting has on lower-income communities should not go unnoticed.

Consider the things that you buy. Notice where your clothes are coming from. Recognize that having the intent of thrifting and reselling your thrifted pieces for outrageous prices takes away from the underprivileged. We can do better than giving in to exploitative practices.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

About Author

Vanessa Delgado

Vanessa Delgado

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7 Comments

  1. Dee
    Dee October 09, 20:11

    I wonder if you’d consider a different point of view?

    I’m a reseller and I’m grateful that the second hand stores and the people who donate to them are giving me a job.

    Also I don’t think people realize how much time it takes to resell: shop, clean and maybe repair, set up to photograph, take pictures and choose the best ones, upload, measure and weigh the item, make a listing including writing good copy, figure out a price, figure out shipping cost, put item away safely in storage. Then, answer customer questions, package item safely, label package and take to the post office. There’s also the cost of gas, cleaning repair and packing materials, the items themselves, and also the 15 or 20% cut that selling platforms take.

    Another things is that every store ‘flips’ their merchandise, whether it’s Walmart or Chanel, all buy clothes for less than they sell it for. Charity shops are meant to make money to finance their service projects that include providing clothes for free to those who need them.

    Reply to this comment
  2. J
    J December 13, 23:18

    I don’t really understand the arguments in this article. There are so many resellers who buy at my local thrift store but there is always an abundance of important items. There’s still hundreds of sweaters and shoes. I would be interested to hear some other ways reselling can be seen as bad but these ways mentioned aren’t convincing me. Also with thrift stores raising prices, that’s 100% their choice and on them. Thankfully I know many thrift stores that operate less like a business and more like a charity.

    Reply to this comment
  3. QT
    QT January 05, 18:57

    I’m not quite sure the person who wrote this article fully understands the actual picture.

    The rate at which Americans (and the world in general) produce clothing is absolutely shocking. The rate at which the garments are discarded – even more shocking.

    Each year 15 million tons or more of used textile waste is produced in the USA alone. More than half of this number end up in a LANDFILL.

    Have you ever walked into a thrift store and seen empty clothing racks? People in need are still able to find good cheap clothing in thrift stores. Resellers are mainly after designer names, which are usually more costly even at a thrift store. If someone is truly in need, the last thing they are going to worry about it spending $10+ on a used designer shirt when they can get something else for $1-3.

    There is more than enough used clothing to go around. That’s why 10 million pounds or more end up in a landfill each year. Resellers keep a lot of these still great and sometimes very rare garments from being WASTED away in a landfill.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Rare
    Rare January 10, 03:55

    Well I am poor and underprivileged and I thrift and resell to pay bills. There’s enough clothes at thrift stores for everyone.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ducky
    Ducky January 17, 18:34

    I’m not a reseller, but I would love to get there. This article was garbage. Resellers go through ALOT of work to repurpose and resell items. Reselling gives them a living income. Im out of work because of coronavirus and this writer is so completely absorped virtue signaling, she has lost all touch woth reality. This writer is making judgements and assumptions in this article, with nothing to back it up.

    Take advantage of the underpriviledged? Get your head out of your butt, Vanessa. Its a hardworking job.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Ducky
    Ducky January 17, 18:35

    The only evidence you preset is that lower income thrifts more than higher income. HUR DUR

    Reselling is a hard job, stop acting so priviledged.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Jo
    Jo January 18, 13:59

    Typical boomer poor millennials find ways to make money.
    Mraah your a bad person!

    Reply to this comment

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