Over the past couple of months, I’ve come across this question a couple of times. “If you can afford to buy things new, shouldn’t you avoid shopping at thrift stores and leave those for the less fortunate?” It’s something I hadn’t thought much about until people mentioned it. The idea is that you are taking things away from people that can’t afford nicer things new. I guess the people that think this way are more kind than I am.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shopping at thrift stores. No matter how much money you have/make. I don’t go and grab stuff out of other shoppers’ hands, so I don’t see anything wrong with buying things I see on the shelf.
Where is everyone?
Often, I am either the only shopper, or there are less than 5 people shopping in the thrift stores I go to. I usually stick to the small, local, stores and avoid going to Goodwill. I live in a pretty rural area, so this may not apply to those who live in big cities. Walmart is much more crowded than any of the other stores around me, so I assume this is where the “less fortunate” do most of their shopping.
Most of the stores I shop at have huge piles of junk that would sit there for months if I didn’t go through them. Sometimes, I even feel a little weird for digging through the piles of junk. The thrift store employees look at me like “what is this weirdo doing?” Most people don’t expect a 20 something guy to be buying things to flip, so there’s no telling what they think I’m doing with the stuff I get. Guess I’m building a reputation of the weird guy that buys old hats and radios.
Thrift stores are for everyone
I’ve never seen a sign on a thrift store that said: “only for the poor.” Most of these stores are barely getting by financially, so any time I buy something from them, I’m helping them stay open. They also donate some of their profits to different charities, so in a way, I’m giving to the less fortunate with each purchase.
We have way too much stuff in America. Anytime I buy something from a thrift store and give it new life, I’m eliminating the need for an item to be manufactured. This helps the environment by causing less pollution and keeps things from ending up in landfills. We probably have enough clothes to last an entire generation. If everyone shopped used, we could hold off on buying new clothes for several years.
Stealing from the poor to sell to the rich
I mainly shop at thrift stores only to buy items and sell them for a profit on eBay. While you could say I’m taking things away from the poor, I look at it differently. There’s still plenty of stuff left over when I’m done shopping, and I buy weird things that most people aren’t going to buy anyways. One of my recent flips was a Harley Davidson CB radio. If you are truly poor, you do not need to be buying a CB radio.
The more items I buy and flip, the more money I’m going to make. By making more money, I’m able to shorten the time it takes me to reach financial independence. Once I reach financial independence, there’s no telling what I may end up doing to help the less fortunate. I also give money to my church every time I make money and we help people in need that way. If a few people miss out on buying a vintage denim coat in order for me to become a wealthy philanthropist, I think it’s worth it.
I donate to thrift stores myself
If I have items or clothes that are sitting around the house and aren’t worth listing on eBay, I get them donated to thrift stores as quickly as I can. There’s no telling how many hundreds of dollars worth of stuff I’ve given. My wife and I just went through our closets and filled up 4 trash bags of clothes we’re going to give. Now that I think of it, I’ve probably given more items than I’ve purchased at this point. I’m sure this won’t be the case for much longer though since I’m working to build my eBay store.
What do you think? Do you shop at thrift stores even though you can afford to shop at the retail shops? Am I being greedy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.