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The Secondhand Market Has Now Surpassed Firsthand

The Growing Popularity of Thrift Store Hunting

In recent years thrift and secondhand retailers have been growing extremely fast, even faster than most firsthand and designer retail models. Secondhand has been on a steady incline the last few years, but why has it suddenly increased so noticeably? Why the massive surge in popularity?

There always used to be a stigma around shopping at secondhand stores but attitudes toward shopping thrift have come full circle. I have found some of my most prized possessions in NYC thrift stores. Now everyone has this fantasy of sorting through racks of vintage garments only to discover some hidden gem, some lost and sunken treasure you feel was put there just for you to find and cherish.

Millennials have been leading the march but it’s not just millennial turf anymore, especially with big retailers like TheRealReal selling secondhand designer brands from the comfort of your couch. Not surprisingly, the women who have the highest likelihood of shopping secondhand are women 18-24 but nearly equal to that are women over 65. Both are interested in the savings but millennials are twice as likely to be motivated by environmental consciousness.


The Millennial Obsession with Thrift

It seems to be an increasingly common occurrence, I ask a colleague where they purchased that jacket and the response is, “At Monk Thrift,” instead of, “At Zara.” Women of a younger demographic are experts at putting new and vintage together seamlessly. One of my closest friends and fellow designer shops at Tahari and Goodwill without discretion and her finds are always immaculate.

Secondhand apparel, offline and online, is an $18 billion industry and is projected to reach $33 billion in the next three years. In a world where apparel sales are declining for big retailers that is a huge growth. Truly, most of the threat is coming from online secondhand retailers, it’s helpful to note that 65% of women stated they prefer to be drinking wine while they shop and I can’t really argue with that logic.

Most people shopping in-store are looking for unique finds and shopping secondhand in general is obviously preferred for someone trying to be more eco-friendly. I look at the rise of thrift store hunting like the rise of vegan food for people who aren’t vegan. Once upon a time, it was a niche market, selling to a select group of people with a select demographic. Now, it is a standard fixture supplying to everyone regardless of necessity and focusing solely on desire. The desire to reduce your carbon footprint and yes, preferably save some money.



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