LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – If you were a younger brother or sister, chances are you are well aware of hand-me-downs, but repurposing clothing is also a great way to lend a helping hand in your community.
Currently, more than 25,000 resale, consignment and Not For Profit resale shops are in the United States, according to The Association of Resale Professionals.
To celebrate, August 17, is National Thrift Store Day or National Thrift Shop Day.
“Thrifters not only celebrate the values of up-cycling, re-using, smart shopping and thrifty fashion, but by shopping at Goodwill, they can have an even greater impact: they can help put unemployed or underemployed neighbors back to work,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Through our programs last year, Goodwill placed more than 318,000 people in jobs, enabling them to support their families and to build better lives and stronger communities.”
In an earlier era nothing went to waste. “If you had a dress and it got worn out, you’d tear it up and make a pinafore for your daughter, and when that got trashed, you’d tear it up and stuff your chair with it,” explains historian Jennifer Le Zotte, author of From Goodwill to Grunge: A History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies.
The industrial revolution introduced the mass-production of clothing and as urban populations grew, the size of living spaces shrunk, and more possessions were being thrown away.
Additionally, a stigma became attached to wearing used clothes as well as a bias against the people selling them, according to an article by TIME Magazine. For example, the May 3, 1884, issue of the Saturday Evening Post ran a satirical story about a girl who got smallpox from a dress she bought from a Jewish-owned resale shop.
Later, Christian ministries looking for funding for their outreach programs got into the thrift business.
Salvation Army’s “salvage brigade” launched in 1897 out of the basement of a men’s shelter. Residents went around the neighborhood with pushcarts asking for used clothes, and they got food and lodging in return. A Methodist minister launched Goodwill, a similar operation, in Boston in 1902, hiring poor and disabled people to collect the goods and do any necessary repairs.
Consignment shops catering to a high-end clientele started to emerge in the 1950s, and wealthier consumers started coveting “vintage” clothes. Garage sales as a kind of charity fundraiser became popular during that period too, and the environmental movement later promoted them as a form of recycling.
Fortune magazine reported on a study that found millennials like to shop with companies that donate to charities which means the thrift-shop model won’t fall out of fashion again any time soon.