Colorado is teeming with professional piggy banks – The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Dylan Tusinski, staff reporter

editor Note: All content of the opinion sections reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent the position of The Collegian or its editors.

Second-hand clothing experiences a second life, for better or for worse.

Thrift has developed into a huge social phenomenon in recent years. TikTok influencers and climate activists alike have highlighted the environmental benefits of shopping thrift, and as a result, it’s become trendy to see what you can score at your local thrift store.

That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s true that frugality benefits the environment, and it’s even more beneficial that people are starting to make their closets more eco-friendly.

The bad thing about the second-hand boom is that it’s disproportionately hitting low-income communities that have relied on thrift stores for years.

Both second-hand shops and second-hand shoppers are benefiting from the sudden boom in second-hand shopping. With more people than ever visiting thrift stores, there’s a lot more money to be made in the business, and everyone wants a piece of the metaphorical pie.

Coupled with rising inflation, the influx of buyers is enticing thrift stores across the country to raise their prices. Occasional buyers and inveterate bargain hunters alike report sudden price spikes for products across the board. I mean, heck, Goodwill recently launched an online store selling designer clothes, rings, and accessories for hundreds of dollars.

Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. After all, thrift stores are businesses and need to make money. But when historically cheap stores start raising their prices drastically, it crowds out low-income communities that need the cheap clothes that thrift stores offer.

“While it’s good that more and more people are trying to minimize their ecological footprint through second-hand shopping, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the ripple effects created by the frugality trend are doing much more harm than good.”

It’s not just the thrift stores that are pricing out low-income people in the resale scene. If you frequent thrift stores like I do, you probably find that with each visit there seems to be less and less good stuff on the shelves, and it’s no coincidence. It is a direct result of so-called professional frugality.

For wealthy shoppers, saving has become something of a business, and some people even go so far as to call themselves professional savers. Many professional bargain hunters have made a living from second-hand shopping: they go to several thrift stores every day, buy all the good stuff and sell it on at thrift markets for huge markups.

Picking up all the good stuff not only hurts low-income people who need clothes from thrift stores, it also hurts other bargain hunters. By buying desirable clothes in bulk, professional bargain hunters and resellers take the fun out of everyone else.

The practice of professional thrift has hit Colorado’s front range particularly hard. The Denver area was named the best place in the country for thrift stores in an analysis this year, and as a result there has been an influx of thrift dealers looking to strike gold in Colorado’s thrift stores.

Now I can always respect a good hustle. But making money off cheap clothes that are badly needed by lower-income communities is not good business.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this. Rather than being a way to find good, cheap clothes, thrifting has become a hustle for both thrift stores and thrift shoppers alike. While it’s good that more and more people are trying to minimize their ecological footprint through second-hand shopping, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the ripple effects created by the frugality trend are doing much more harm than good.

Reach out to Dylan Tusinski below [email protected] or on Twitter @dylantusinski.

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