31 Reasons Why I'm in Love With Thrift Shopping (and You Should Be Too)
I realize I'm a strange animal. My palms tingle a little bit when I approach a thrift store. All my senses sharpen. The rest of the world fades into watercolor tones and muffled sounds. I can park, grab my wallet, hop out, and lock my car in a single fluid Matrix-inspired movement. Once inside, I can size up a thrift store in seconds: Who's the serious competition and who's just browsing? Is the store too organized or wonderfully chaotic? What's newly-stocked, and what's stale? (See also: The 5 Best Deals in Every Thrift Store)
I've been a die-hard thrifter since I was 13 years old, and now, as I approach the midpoint of my 40's, my love affair with thrifting has only deepened. If you're a serious second-hand shopper, you may recognize many of your own motivations in the list that follows. And if you've never tried thrifting, consider all these reasons to fall madly in love with it.
1. Where else can the average person go on a real-life treasure hunt? (I'll save you the click: Man finds copy of an 1823 print of the Declaration of Independence, worth almost $500k, in a thrift store!)
2. Saving 75% on retail is just like getting a 75% return on your money.
3. Used items are tried and true and (usually) come without surprises.
4. Those second-hand jeans are already broken-in.
5. Shop for good! Your purchases often help fund charitable causes.
6. Thrifting is recycling at its most basic and beneficial level.
7. There are all different kinds of thrift stores, and they tend to have the widest, wildest, most unpredictable inventory in the business.
8. Because retail prices hurt!
9. If older means made better, thrift stores have all the good stuff!
10. Thrift stores are the perfect places to find an expensive weekend project.
11. You can furnish a dorm room or college apartment on a shoestring.
12. Thrift stores are windows into our culture — mix shopping with sociology.
13. Thrifting keeps your kids out of the mall (and that's always a good thing).
14. You can never have too many copies of "I'm OK, You're OK."
15. Sometimes, thrifting pays off big. (Again, saving you a click: North Carolina woman buys abstract painting worth $20k for $9.99.)
16. Missing an obscure piece of your grandmother's china? Be patient; you'll eventually find it at a thrift store.
17. Retail emporiums are homogenous. Thrifting lets you find something that no one else has.
18. When you're thrifting, you're not directly increasing the industrial demand for more.
19. You can brag about how much you saved.
20. Because new books cost at least $14.99.
21. Thrift stores are a picker's paradise. Vintage clothes and other items can be flipped for profit.
22. Shopping second hand sets a great example for your kids. The value of thrift, creative reuse, and community support are noble lessons!
23. Everything is prewashed and preshrunk. When a piece of thrift store clothing fits you in the dressing room, you know it'll fit when you get it home.
24. Thrifting can be just a little competitive (in a good way). The friendly rivalry between serious thrifters produces more admiration than envy.
25. Every day is new. Inventory turns over so quickly in some markets that you seldom see the same stuff twice.
26. Thrift stores are time capsules into pop culture history. Teach your kids about ALF, Rubik's Cube, Etch A Sketch, lava lamps, and Milli Vanilli.
27. You can find items that have long since gone out of production. From out-of-print books to jeans with the perfect cut, thrift stores let us rediscover some of our favorite things.
28. Because thrifting isn't just about finding old stuff; there are new items too!
29. Because your depression-era parents or grandparents would be proud.
30. Thrifting is arguably the most local and sustainable form of commerce.
31. Thrift stores are the perfect places to find back-to-school bargains.
There you have it, my belated valentine to thrift-shopping. Of course there are many more reasons to love this half-sport half-science. What are some of yours?
Are you an avid thrift shopper? Why do you love it? What's been your best find to date? Please share a comment below (even a recycled one)!