Retail to Resale: It’s stylish to shop secondhand
Thrift and consignment stores are seeing more shoppers interested in saving money and the planet.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For years, saving money on buying new clothing has been the primary reason consumers have turned to thrift stores. Recently, though, more shoppers say they’re looking for clothing to upcycle in an effort to be more sustainable.
According to a 2022 report, the National Retail Federation found more than 60% of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact.
In the Madison area, Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin is noticing an uptick in shoppers, reporting a 14% increase in sales in 2022.
“It’s kind of cool to thrift shop,” said Michele Harris, president and CEO of Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin. “We also are seeing people be very environmentally conscious, so it’s a really great way to be friendly to the earth.”
THRILL OF THE THRIFT
Hannah Rupp says her favorite Goodwill stores are busier than ever before.
“You used to be able to go in and it’d be quiet,” said Rupp. “Now, no matter what time of day you’re going, it always seems to be busy.”
Starting at a young age, Rupp has been thrifting for years.
“When I was a kid, we had to thrift,” said Rupp. “It was just our financial situation. We started thrifting and it became second nature.”
Now, as an adult, Rupp chooses to shop secondhand looking for clothing that’s both colorful and comfortable.
“It’s so fun to be able to express my personal style,” she said. “Being able to find those cool, unique pies from the past is really fun for me.”
Rupp estimates about 80% of her closet is thrifted. In 2015, she started “The Outfit Repeater” - a blog dedicated to sharing her thrifted finds and tips for those looking to start shopping secondhand.
“I like to show that you can shop on a budget and still look really great,” explained Rupp.
She says there’s an online community filled with people who have a passion for secondhand fashion and Goodwill stores are taking note.
“With social media, people are really sharing what they’re purchasing. They’re sharing ideas and they’re sharing challenges,” said Harris. “People are inspiring each other to go out and thrift shop.”
Rupp’s advice for those new to thrift shopping is to focus on one area of the store.
“Don’t worry about the rest of the store,” said Rupp. “Try it and don’t just try it once. Try it a few times and go to different stores to get a feel for what’s out there.”
Some shoppers are turning to consignment stores to both buy and sell their closets.
At Pink Poodle in Madison, owner Beth Testa says her store caters to customers looking to save big on designer brands.
“You could save at least 50%, if not more,” said Testa. “They can get a whole bag of items for maybe what you would pay retail for one item.”
Self-proclaimed ‘shoe-nut’ Bridget Kelley-Wolle says she shops consignment for heels or boots that are longer lasting.
“It’s worth taking your time to find something that’s good quality and that you know is going to last,” said Kelley-Wolle.
She says the payoff to find her next pair of shoes is usually worth it.
“It’s a treasure hunt,” said Kelley-Wolle. “You have to spend a little time and look through everything and then you find your treasure.”
An emphasis on the environment is another reason Kelley-Wolle believes more people are turning to resale.
“I think people feel like a little bit of a responsibility not to put things in the landfill,” she said. “I think that’s actually a huge problem so you come here, you get quality pieces at a great price and you’re keeping things from being wasted.”
NEXT GENERATION SHOPS SECONDHAND
Kelley-Wolle says her teenage daughter loves to shop secondhand.
“They all seem to get it, you know?” said Kelly-Wolle. “They know that they should recycle and so they thrift. Plus, they’re all limited budgets so it’s fun and it’s something for them to do.”
Rupp says she’s noticed younger generations are leading the way when it comes to posting thrifted finds on TikTok or Instagram.
“It’s going to continue to just grow and flourish, especially as more people are becoming eco-conscious and sustainable,” said Rupp.
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