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What Does It Mean to “Go Thrifting”?

For some people, thrifting is something their either do out of necessity or for fun. For others, thrifting is a new concept that they don’t completely understand.

So, what does it mean to go thrifting? The definition of thrifting is shopping at secondhand stores, thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, etc in order to find unique or needful items at discounted prices. Some people see thrifting as a fun activity whereas other people thrift to save money or resell items to make money.

There are various reasons why people go thrifting. Here are some of the reasons people go thrifting and what they are looking for in the process.

Who Goes to Thrift Stores & Why is it Popular

According to First Research, as of December 2018,

The used merchandise stores industry in the US includes about 20,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $17.5 billion. source

Also, The Association of Resale Professionals shared this information on their website regarding the type of people who enjoy thrift shopping and their reasons for doing it.

Resale shopping attracts consumers from all economic levels. There is no typical resale shopper, just as there is no typical resale shop. No one is immune to the excitement of finding a treasure and saving money. Shrewd shoppers take advantage of the opportunity resale offers to save money on apparel, furniture and other consumer goods. These savings can add quality to life when used for vacations, entertainment, funding college and retirement accounts, and expanding family activities. source

Let’s break down the three types of people who go thrift shopping and what they’re looking for.

Treasure Hunters

These are the people who are on the hunt for unique and interesting items that they can add to their collection or repurpose into something amazing!

Some people simply enjoy the thrill of finding unique items that they can add to their collections or display in their home. You never know what you’ll find in a thrift store or at a garage sale and every location is different.

Other people enjoy looking for beaten up, worn out furniture pieces or even small items that they can fix up and repurpose into new item. They enjoy upcycling their finds and bringing them back to life either to be used for the same purpose or to give them a new purpose.

Frugal Money Savers

Then there are the frugal money savers who don’t mind wearing preowned clothing or buying used household items to save money. This is especially true for moms look for kids items. Children grow out of their clothing so fast, that most families don’t want to spend a bunch of money on clothes that are only going to last a short period of time.

The same goes for buying furniture. A lot of times you can find really nice pieces at thrift store and secondhand shops that are in excellent condition and way cheaper than buying new!


The third group of people who love thrifting is resellers. Whether they’re online resellers or they flip their finds at local flea markets, there is a lot of money to be made from reselling. Many resellers enjoy pay by the pound thrift stores such, as Goodwill Outlet, because they can get items a lot cheaper than regular thrift stores.

Unfortunately, a lot of thrift stores have noticed their reseller clientele and started raising their prices to match what the resellers would sell them for online. Stores that do this are actually doing more harm to themselves because they are going to lose a whole group of people who won’t buy from them because their prices are too high. It would be better for the thrift stores to sell the items cheaper and move the items off the shelves faster than to hold out for higher prices.

What Do People Look For at Thrift Stores?

The online marketplace thredUP posted an interesting report in 2018 showing the resale market and the resale market for used items. You’ll notice that clothing, media and electronics, books, homewares, and furniture make up the biggest pieces of the pie. These are all items that add up quickly when purchased new, making them highly sought after items in the resale market.

Clothing. I think it’s safe to say that clothing is one of the most purchased items at thrift stores. Clothing can be downright expensive when bought new! The great thing about thrifting is, you can find the same name brands, usually in excellent used condition, for a fraction of the cost. There are people in all three categories who look for clothing, treasures hunters, frugal people, and resellers.

Electronics and Media. Not only do the money savers like to purchase electronics second hand, but they’re also highly sought after by resellers. This is especially true for vintage electronics as there is still a large market of people who buy these used online. DVDs.

Kitchen and Housewares. From dishes, utensils, and plastic food containers, a lot of people look for special occasion pieces and things they can use every day. Just look at the prices of new sets of dishes! You’ll find that many people would prefer to buy used than spend those prices.

Furniture. This is another category of items that are highly sought after for various reasons. Whether for upcycling or use in their own home, people love finding cheap furniture and finding a use for it. Some resellers will even find furniture and resell it locally on Craigslist or another selling app like OfferUp or LetGo.

Related Questions

What’s the difference between thrift stores and consignment stores? Thrift stores receive donations and the funds from their sales normally fund a charitable organization. At consignment stores, the earnings from sold items are split with a percentage going to the store and the rest to person who brought the item in to be sold.

What is the purpose of a thrift store? Thrift stores are generally funding a specific charity. For example, Goodwill Stores use their thrift store earnings to help create jobs for people with disabilities, veterans, and the underprivileged. Salvation Army uses the earnings from the Family Thrift Stores to help those who are in need in local communities.

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