Should People With High Incomes Be Allowed To Shop At Thrift Stores?

I like thrift stores. I like browsing through lots of different items and trying to find a good deal. In case you didn’t know, I actually used to work at a secondhand clothing shop called Plato’s Closet, which is a clothing chain that buys and sells gently used clothing for young adults. I worked there…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: March 23, 2024

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

I have actually been told that I shouldn’t shop at thrift stores or use discounts (such as coupons), because those are only for "poor people." Who should be allowed to shop at thrift stores? #thriftstores #savemoney #moneysavingtipsI like thrift stores. I like browsing through lots of different items and trying to find a good deal.

In case you didn’t know, I actually used to work at a secondhand clothing shop called Plato’s Closet, which is a clothing chain that buys and sells gently used clothing for young adults. I worked there for many years, starting as a sales associate and eventually becoming a manager. Due to working for several years at a secondhand shop, I love a good deal, and it’s still hard for me to pay full price for clothing. We saw lots of high-quality clothing and brand name accessories coming in and being sold for a fraction of the price you would see at a traditional retail store.

Buying secondhand doesn’t just save you a ton of money, it prevents waste and lessens the number of things piling up in landfills.

I think we are all aware that we are throwing things into landfills at alarming rates, and shopping secondhand can be one of many ways to make a difference.

However, that’s not how some people see shopping at thrift stores, especially if you have a high income.

I have actually been told that I shouldn’t shop at thrift stores or use discounts (such as coupons), because those are only for “poor people.”

I have been told that by shopping at a thrift store, I am taking items that people with less money could have bought and used.

I’ve also heard that people who shop at thrift stores in order to flip items for a higher profit are “evil.”

Other comments I’ve heard about shopping at thrift stores include (these are all direct quotes):

  • “Why donate if it’s not going to poor people?”
  • “A person isn’t actually wealthy if they shop at Goodwill.”
  • “Shopping at thrift stores is for people who can’t afford clothes.”
  • “The wealthy shouldn’t be allowed to save money. They should leave it for the less fortunate.”

Personally, I believe that thrift stores and discounts are for anyone to use. Of course, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, but I would bet that those people don’t really understand the positives of purchasing secondhand or the missions that non-profit secondhand stores have.

Related content:

As you can see from the tweet below, my question generated a lot of conversation – from both sides even!

Here is why I believe anyone should be allowed to shop at thrift stores.

 

Everyone is allowed to save money.

Seriously, every single person should be able to save money if they want. Everyone, period.

Do I need to say it again?

People who think that the wealthy shouldn’t be allowed to save money are just nuts in my opinion.

Plus, as you’ll read below, thrift stores serve many other purposes, such as preventing an overwhelming amount of waste clogging landfills and furthering a thrift store’s mission to help charities and their community.

Thrift stores are usually bursting at the seams with new things to put out, meaning there is no shortage of things to buy.

Thrift stores can save a person a lot of money, and who is to say who can and cannot save money?

The wealthy are wealthy for a reason- many of them know how to manage their money correctly. And, this may include shopping at thrift stores and using discounts/coupons. Many look for realistic ways to save money because they don’t like to waste money if they can prevent it.

After all, you’ll never be wealthy if you spend it all.

There are many ways to save money and grow your wealth, and shopping secondhand can be a small step in gaining financial freedom.

Related content: Why You Should Spend Like A Millionaire- The Frugal and Smart Money Habits of Millionaires

 

It’s environmentally responsible to shop at thrift stores.

Thrift stores usually have an overwhelming number of things. It’s not like you are going to buy 100% of the items in the store – they have thousands upon thousands of items to sell.

When you purchase something secondhand, you are keeping one more item out of a landfill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was product in 2013, with around 85% of that going to landfills.

And, according to the Huffington Post, Americans, on average, throw away 70 pounds of clothing each year.

According to Down To Earth Materials, the estimated decomposition time for clothing and other items are:

  • Leather shoes: 25-40 years
  • Nylon clothes: 30-40 years
  • Cotton: 1-5 months
  • Tin can: around 50 years
  • Plastic bottles: 70-450 years

As you can see, the clothing we wear and other household items we use can have a big environmental impact. By purchasing secondhand clothing and items, we can lower the amount of waste we put into landfills and help the environment well into the future.

With more people shopping at thrift stores, there are even more items that are getting a second “life” and even fewer items ending up in landfills.

Can you just imagine how crazy landfills would be if certain people weren’t allowed to shop at thrift stores? There would be so much trash everywhere!

Related: How Thrift Store Reselling Is Good For The Environment And How To Do It

 

There’s enough for everyone at a thrift store.

For the most part, buying a t-shirt at Goodwill or Salvation Army isn’t going to negatively impact anyone – they have plenty of everything there. In some places, they are actually turning away donations because they have TOO MUCH STUFF.

When we donated about 99% of our belongings to move into the RV, we took a lot of our things to thrift stores, but, surprisingly, a lot of our belongings were rejected because they had too much stuff or too many of a specific item. We actually had to hunt for places that would take some of our stuff.

Most of the things that are sold at thrift shops aren’t going to be life or death for anyone – it’s just stuff, which may be hard for many people to realize now, but it is the truth.

There is plenty for everyone and thrift stores won’t be running out of basic household items and clothing anytime soon.

So, the belief that “rich people are taking away items from the less fortunate” is not realistic – because there’s plenty of stuff for everyone. Like I said, thrift stores are bursting with so much stuff that they are turning donations away!

 

Your money is helping the thrift store’s mission.

Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army exist so that they can make money and put that money towards the charities they support.

So, more people shopping at these thrift stores can help further their mission of helping the community.

For example, with the money Goodwill makes through selling items at its stores and through donations, they were able to place more than 313,000 people into employment in just 2016. It’s possible that if you took away some of their customer base, they may not have been able to help as many people. They even state on their website:

“When you donate your new and gently used items to Goodwill®, we sell them in our stores or on our online auction site and use the revenue generated to fund valuable employment training and job placement services for people in your community.”

For many non-profit thrift stores, their mission actually isn’t to solely sell clothes at low prices. Instead, their mission is to further improve the community and the people in it. To do that, they need funds, and they raise funds by selling donated items.

So, the more people who shop at these stores (including people who can afford regularly priced stuff) actually help them further their mission.

So, what do you think? Do you think that thrift stores and discounts shouldn’t be used by people who can afford otherwise?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Thrift stores are for everyone! If someone feels guilty shopping at a thrift shop they can always make a donation to the store!

    I definitely agree with your case for rescuing the item from the landfill, and shopping thrift stores is a great way to do that. The more clothing/items that pass through the store, the more donations they can collect.

  2. Great post Michelle and I agree with your point of view. I think some of the attitude that ‘rich people shouldn’t be allowed to shop at thrift stores’ probably comes from that same segment of society that harbors hate and resentment for the rich. Unfortunately I think that segment of society has grown in recent years.

    1. It’s not just the rich too. Some people think that even people with a middle class income shouldn’t be allowed to shop at thrift stores like Goodwill. That’s just crazy!

      1. Erin

        There’s a huge difference in poverty , people in poverty CANNOT cover all the basics including clothes food ect .. people that are middle income and above have their financial stuff together and there is a difference between “ saving “ money being frugal and just being CHEAP .. you certainly are taking it away from a child that NEEDS it .. you are ABLE to buy used so check out consignment Craigslist kijiji Facebook groups
        How disgusting are you

        1. Do you honestly think that thrift stores are only for those who can afford it? You do know what the mission of most of them are, correct?

        2. Jeff

          Please do research. If a child is in need many municipalities have places like a food pantry but instead of food they have clothes that are donated and given freely. A person who works at a local thrift store told me once that only ten percent of clothing that comes in hits the floor. Why? Is what is discard soiled, has holes? No! When the racks are full and they have sorted clothes to go out they simply take clothes never even looked at and toss them. So upwards of 90 percent of what they get gets tossed and much of that is never even sorted. But, yes, a child needs it.

    2. A.Roddy

      Little late but what about the richer class resentment to the poor? i see more of that. The richer politicians have been wanting to take away from the poor like they don’t deserve any help. They get called lazy just for asking help.

      IMO I do think there should be an income limit. Maybe they would learn how it feels to be turned down. ” You see richer people born into it have no clue about earning. They have no clue about poverty. Think Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. That’s where the ‘gently’ used comes in-wear one time by someone who doesn’t get working a regular job.

  3. Jason@Simple Man Money

    Totally agree with you, Michelle. Not allowing “rich” people to shop at thrift stores would be like saying wealthy people can’t buy used cars, or check out free library books. It’s a ridiculous argument, largely perpetuated by those suffering from wealth envy.

    Perhaps the reason wealthy people stay that way is because they shop at thrift stores and buy modest vehicles.

    1. Yes, it is definitely a ridiculous argument!

  4. That’s a very good question. I guess it’s safe to say rich or poor, it’s a matter of choice. The good news about shopping at thrift stores is that if a person is looking to start a business on just a few bucks or few hundred dollars to their life savings, they could start by purchasing small items out of thrift stores. Then turn around and senn them for a profit online on sites like eBaY, Etsy, Poshmark, and so on. Whether someone is rich or not, I think everyone should shop at thrift stores. You’ll find amazing bargains there. I shop there from time to time myself. 🙂

  5. So basically the naysayers are implying that people who have money should waste it? I don’t think so. Just because someone can afford to purchase new items doesn’t require them to do so. Besides, that’s the type of mindset that gets people in financial trouble. I buy clothing from thrift stores because I like having new to me clothes without sacrificing my retirement savings goals. I get very anxious when I spend money on wants vs needs even though I currently can afford it; shopping thrift negates that anxiety. When I’m no longer into the item I donate it back to the store where I purchased it. In fact, I donate or give away most of my unwanted items because I can’t stand the idea of throwing out something that someone else could use.

    1. Yes, it’s definitely the mindset that can ruin a person’s finances.

      1. Very true, Michelle. Look forward to a lengthy blog comment on your next post. Content marketing is my specialty. 🙂

  6. Your debate reminds me of one other thing I consider when I’m shopping in thrift stores–thrift stores only exist because so many people are so wasteful.

    I feel like a bottom feeder when I realize that I was able to find a nice rain coat because someone else bought one, never wore it, and gave it away.

    Frankly, I’d rather we structure our society so everyone has the money they need to thrive and no one is wasteful.

    1. Yes, people can definitely be wasteful.

  7. Tina

    I started shopping at thrift stores when my husband and I were just starting out. We had just finished college and had 2 little ones. We were living on $25K (this was in 1989, so things weren’t quite as expensive as today). It was the only way I could clothe my little ones.
    Fast forward 28 years. We make substantially more money and are quite comfortable, yet, every week I am at Goodwill or other thrift store trying to find a bargain. I am sure all my years of shopping through stores helped us get in the financial position we are in now.

    1. Yes, exactly! Great job Tina.

  8. Mrs. COD

    It’s so ridiculous that people think it’s a poor person’s privilege to shop at thrift stores! As you pointed out, there are plenty of donations, so you’re certainly not taking it away from the poor. And of course, keeping frugal habits like this is one more way you keep your financial situation secure for now and the future. Now, if people like you were going to food pantries to try and get free groceries, that would be wrong. But shopping thriftily is a completely different thing! (Besides, when people with money buy cheap clothing, it frees up more of their money to donate to charitable organizations…)

    1. Yes, shopping thriftily is definitely different 🙂

  9. SJ

    Who gets to decide if someone is “too wealthy” to shop at a thrift store? And what kind of constraints do they get to place on that? I would probably be considered “wealthy” by some people, and I rarely go to Goodwill anymore, mostly because it’s out of the way, and I find it generally overpriced in our area (why would I spend $14 on a pair of worn out jeans when I can buy a new pair at for that price or less with sales and/or coupons?). But I had to buy some items for my daughter’s Halloween costume a few weeks ago, and we went to Goodwill to find a tank top and some pants that we could dirty/bloody up. Should I have paid full price for new items that we would have then cut up and smeared with dirt and fake blood? That’s just silly. While we were there, we found two adorable dresses that fit her perfectly. Should I have left them behind because we are “wealthy” enough to buy dresses that cost more than $6?

    And coupons? Good grief. Many people are “wealthy” BECAUSE they use coupons to save money. Coupons don’t take money out of anyone’s pocket except for the company that issues them, and their markup is already so high that they can obviously afford to issue coupons at 20-30-40+% off to the general public. You better believe I’m going to use a coupon if one is available!

  10. I think it’s crazy to dictate who can or cannot shop there. Living in a free society has so many advantages, but it comes with personal responsibility which you can’t legislate. This reminds me the NYC law, trying to legislate everyone’s health by forbidding vendors to sell soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. People who are “well off” most likely achieved that by making smart personal choices, so who’s to say when they should no longer be able to do that. And that’s also a great point about landfills full of wasted clothing. I’d say encourage everyone to reuse and recycle, but don’t throttle certain people whose good choices have paid off.

  11. Heather @ bizewife

    I wonder what people have to say about my habit: shopping at thrift stores for both my own wardrobe, but also to resell on sites like Poshmark and eBay. This is a large component of my side hustle and I enjoy doing it. I live in a high wealth area and that means thrift stores generally have a lot of upmarket and luxury merchandise in great condition. I can buy it at a discount and then make great profits on my resale. I do the same thing with some sample sale merchandise.

    The way I see it is that I am offering folks that don’t live here the opportunity to score still-great deals on designer duds. I also am supporting my local thrifts (i.e. HousingWorks), who are putting their proceeds directly into community outreach and improvement. Win win right?

    1. Cody @ Dollar Habits

      That’s awesome, Heather! Definitely a win-win. My wife is looking at doing the same thing.

  12. I couldn’t agree more, Michelle! Thrift stores should be used by everyone……especially to help save the environment and keep stuff out of landfills. I almost exclusively shop at thrift stores, and sometimes places like TJ Maxx and Ross, and I’ve found such good deals that I can’t imagine paying full price for something ever again. I’m glad you brought up this issue and hope you inspire more people to shop second-hand 🙂

  13. Very good article. Anyone should be able to shop at a thrift store without judgement. As you mentioned, it is a great way to recycle. It’s also a great way to find unique items. And, yes, many wealthy people have a nice amount of money because they don’t spend frivilously.

  14. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Whaaaat? I’ve never heard this before. Do these same people believe that high earners should only eat at steak houses instead of McDonald’s so there’s “enough cheap food for the poor people?” I swear. I make a good living and I buy A LOT of my household goods at the thrift store. My money is going towards reducing landfill waste, employing people, and even fulfilling a charitable mission.

  15. Robert

    I am a high income professional with income over 300k. For many years, I have had a side hustle of buying from thrift stores , garage sales, estate auctions, etc and reselling. I generate a fair income from it and genuinely love doing it having sold over 2k items. I am getting pretty close to fire but will definitely keep this side hustle .

    1. Cody @ Dollar Habits

      Sounds like you’re a pro, Robert. Any tips for a beginner like me? I can see what you mean about genuinely enjoying it. I have been having a lot of fun with it and have been doing pretty well from a financial standpoint.

      1. Robert

        My tips would be find something you’re interested in and learn about it. For example, I know nothing about women’s clothing so I don’t sell that. I focus on vintage electronics, books, vintage hats , and things that interest me. It’s not all about the money but enjoying the research and sourcing .

        Lastly , get organized. I have a system of numbering items so I know where they are when time to ship. The accounting piece is boring but pretty easy w quickbooks ( which I recommend)

        Oh and have fun

        1. Cody @ Dollar Habits

          Thank you so much for taking the time to leave that great reply. I will definitely heed your advice. I also love your point on organization. That meshes very well with my personality. 🙂 Thanks, again, Robert!

    2. Good for you 🙂 It’s a great side hustle!

  16. Cody @ Dollar Habits

    Love this post, Michelle! You did a great job listing out all the reasons why anyone and everyone should, and should be able to, shop at thrift stores, regardless of the size of their bank account.

    My wife and I actually just started reselling as a side hustle last month. So far, we have been sourcing primarily from yard sales, but plan to source from thrift stores as well. The extra income is certainly helpful for us as a one-income household and we simultaneously get to contribute to your points above. As Heather mentioned above, it’s a win-win. Thanks for the great post!

  17. Lisa

    Luckily I’ve never heard anyone complain about wealthy people shopping at thrift stores. I’m hoping it’s an indication of the quality of people I hang out with. ha ha… 🙂 I could understand someone commenting on it IF there were very limited amounts of donated goods available BUT that has never been the case. Thrift stores are everywhere, and are jam packed full of goods, plenty for everyone. No one is taking anything from someone in need. MUCH better to have anyone purchase these items rather than have them end up in the landfill. Shop on!

  18. SMM

    Everyone should be able to shop there just like everyone can use coupons, or rebates or take advantage of clearance sales. It’s all about finding a good deal. There shouldn’t be discrimination in shopping. I’m still working on find a cheap piece of art at a thrift store and finding out it’s worth millions 🙂

  19. Anja

    My parents are worth $10 million dollars and my mom shops at thrift stores. How do you think my parents built up $10 million dollars? They don’t waste any money.

    There’s so much stuff at the thrift store they have a half off sale twice a month to get rid of inventory because they don’t have enough room and need it gone. There’s more available to buy than there are buyers.

    Thrift stores are for everyone. Being snobby just makes you poor.

  20. I think that people who don’t shop there have these stigmas that the stuff is “old” or “dirty” so they associate negative feelings with it. I will admit that prior to meeting my husband, my family would always buy new, but after realizing that secondhand can be just as good (and at a way better price), I have converted.

    Just getting the word out there more from “wealthier” people that it’s okay is a good first step to clearing up these misconceptions. Thanks for sharing an article on this!

  21. I wish we all could shop thrift stores to reduce the demand for all the wasteful new fast fashion out there. There’s several times more tons of excess clothing in the world that no one is going to use or wear, why on earth do we want to keep contributing to that waste? There’s no way in which this can be a zero sum game the way those folks imply.

    I also wish there were petite thrift stores because I would be 100% into that!!

  22. Guy Meets FI

    I can honestly say I was one of those young punks who thought I was too good to shop at thrift stores. Now I look back and realize I was such a moron.

    Michelle, I just want to say thanks so much for all you do! I just started my first blog after years of resistance. I followed your steps and I’m off to the races now! WISH ME LUCK!

    1. Haha! Glad you realized your mistake 🙂

      Congrats on starting a blog. Good luck!

  23. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to show a tax return proving a low income to shop at a thrift store. Actually, it turns out you don’t need one to be elected president either. As long as there is no “low income only” policy by the store, shop away!

  24. Debbie

    Omg, it’s a free country! Yes, these places are usually packed to the gills w/donations. I have to remember not to donate in January like last yr b/c they are so full of stuff. This yr, I’ll wait until Feb.

  25. I honestly hope no one is of this opinion that high-income earners should be banished from shopping thrift stores. If so, do those same folks also believe that low-income earners shouldn’t have to donate to charity…?

    Multiple lines of my monthly budget includes charitable contributions (Wounded Warrior & Susan G. Komen) as fixed “expenses”. These are just as important as my monthly rent. As much as I would like to shop at Whole Foods or go buy new clothes or have dinner and drinks, I throttle down so that, no matter what, those charitable expenses are paid each month.

    Responsible individuals, who are mindful of their spending habits, should be observed more than judged.

    Thank you for this post and digging beneath the surface to understand this topic. That is good writing.

  26. Hi Michelle,

    Interesting article, and I think it’s great that you still shop at thrift stores. It seems that all people should be allowed to, regardless of income level!

    Environmental responsibility is something people may not always consider, but definitely an important point. Recycling and reusing clothes is another great way to minimize waste and our contributions to landfill.

    Moira

  27. I love rummaging at thrift stores even though I rarely end up buying things.

    Most people with a lot of money got there because they saved. Not everyone with a million in the bank makes a million a year.

  28. Liz Eastlake

    Makes no sense for anyone to judge how much money you “should” spend based on income, or even how much you “should” earn. Not their business!

    As far as shopping at thrift stores and other discounters, many wealthy people became wealthy by being frugal, and saving before spending. Are healthier habits to cultivate than the high-consumption credit card one, since the latter can become addictive.

    We have some great thrift stores in our area, and they provide essential community services. Not only do they have amazing deals and an array of merchandise at a fraction of original prices, they offer jobs and merchandise for people transitioning from tough situations, and emotional and spiritual support when connected with faith ministries. Competition from private and franchise thrift stores improves merchandise quality and selection . . . makes thrifting even more fun and attractive.

    BTW, The Dollar Tree and Aldi’s are my A-list for thrifting. Many name brands, good selection, awesome deals 🙂

  29. Interesting article, I used to buy in thrift store and sometimes I found more choice here instead “normal” shops…in my personal opinion thrift stores and discounts are for everyone!!!

  30. Suzi

    When you even give ear to the argument that “rich people” shouldn’t shop in thrift stores, you quickly come up against the question of how to define rich, and is it an income level or based on what car you drive, the balance in your checking account, net worth? Who gets to decide, anyway? I’m so sick of the shaming for only having what I’ve worked very hard to get.

    My husband works for the Salvation Army, and he is over their thrift stores in our area. The profits from the thrift stores goes to pay for their residential drug and alcohol rehab program–it’s a six-month program with almost 130 total “beds” (with men in one facility, women in another), and it’s crazy expensive to run; all you have to do is imagine how much a 6-month in-house rehab program is through other channels, but then also try to run a profitable retail business with a military hierarchy model. The Salvation Army itself has other charity work that they do as well, and other donations/volunteer work fund those needs. Because hubby is in the thick of it every day, I hear about how there is SO much “product,” and never enough employees and volunteers at the stores to get it all done–and this is especially true with the donations; they get so, so many, and cities are not always nice if they get to be more than can be handled at a time. Thank you so much for bringing this to the forefront. The racks have never been anywhere close to bare at any of the thrift stores in our area, so there is not an issue of scarcity where those in need can’t find the things they need.

    I am happy to shop at thrift stores for ALL the good it does. I’m happy that my saving a buck and keeping an item out of a landfill does so much MORE than that.

  31. Tiffany|Odd Moms Club

    My life would be over if I were banned from thrift stores! It’s a form of self-therapy for me. And I love the thrill of the hunt! Yes, I could go to the mall and pay the 200% markup (literally) but why would I? I’m being smart and frugal and good to myself, and that’s a position I will always defend. And for the naysayers, those who shop at thrift stores usually are the ones who donate most to thrift stores….see how that works??? We pay it forward and keep the cycle going!

    Loved your rant! 🙂

  32. Damn Millennial

    Haha this is America of course they should be allowed. Maybe it should actually be that those with a low income are not allowed to shop at expensive stores as to not harm their financial well being…

    1. Samantha

      YES! That’s what I was going to suggest. Let’s ban “poor people” from expensive shopping malls. After all, they “shouldn’t” be spending all their income on brand new designer clothing, right? Save that stuff for the Richies who can afford it.

  33. I love goodwill and thrift stores. I think anyone should be able to shop regardless of their income. Just because I am smarter with my money, I shouldn’t be penalized.

  34. I remember back in college I would always check out our local thrift shops! Not only would it be great for finding quirky clothes for themed mixers, there were some gems in there that I could never find in ‘normal’ shops. I found all kinds of awesome stuff from cheap blazers to retro jackets to nice button downs.

    Sometimes people tried to shame me for shopping there, but I kind of had the same mindset you do – it helps their business which, in turn, helps those less fortunate.

    Great post!

  35. George Chen

    70-450 years? Guess it will be smart to start investing in secondhand plastic bottles. They’re obviously not fading any time soon. 😉

    Poor humour aside, thank you for the article. I agree with you that discounts are for everybody. If some rich guy/lady wanted to buy the faded 5-year-old denim jeans, over the pair that’s made from Antartican Elephant harvested under a full moon and save a hundred bucks, then all the more power to them. It’s their money, they do them and you do you.

  36. What a strange thing for people to even think! There are many millionaires who still use coupons and haggle deals on their utility bills! I probably would too!

    I recently heard of a used clothing shop for people who literally cannot afford clothing for themselves or their children. If someone who is not in need were to “shop” there, yes I would find that totally inappropriate and wrong. Don’t take a hand out unless you really need it – basically.

  37. Anita

    The stuff at the thrift store isn’t cheap, because government pays the shops to sell shiny new things to the poor.
    Then it really would be unethical to buy there if you can afford other shops.
    But thrift stores are no social benefit. (? My English isn’t perfect)
    They are just places where you can get rid of all your old stuff without the toil of ebay or a full rubbish basket.
    Its a business for the operator.
    There are some operators who donate the profit, but not all do.

  38. It frustrates me to no end when people want to discriminate against people with high income or net worth. Yes, anyone should be allowed to shop at thrift stores, for the reasons you put.

    It does seem that there are two reasons people think the rich shouldn’t shop at thrift stores:

    1. Because it makes them look less rich, because what’s the point of being rich if you can’t flaunt it?
    2. Because it’s taking away from poor people and the rich are simply greedy.

    Both, of course, are completely off the mark.

    1. A.Roddy

      Little late but no it’s not off the mark. Rich people can be jerks like anyone else. It shows in our current administration. I would bet 90% rich people are more jerks than poor. As I said I read more upper class wealthy prejudice against poor. According to them poor means lazy. The sanctimonious attitudes here wreaks.

  39. Thanks for writing this piece Michelle!

    I don’t know what sort of people would say that wealthy people aren’t allowed to shop at thrift stores. That’s just dumb!

    I think it’s a great way to save money, regardless of your financial situation. And wealthy people can shop anywhere they want. In most cases, they worked hard to get to where they are, so they shouldn’t have to spend it only on expensive stuff.

    In terms of the environmental impact, doesn’t it end up in landfill anyway? After we buy stuff from the thrift store and it eventually gets worn out, we’ll throw it away. I think we should be looking more at how we can recycle our goods in general so all produce less waste.

    1. Selena

      From an environmental perspective, shopping secondhand is essentially voting with your dollar. It’s saying I’m choosing to purchase this item that already exists rather than using resources to create a new item. Therefore, if you shop exclusively secondhand you aren’t creating any demand for new stuff.

  40. Jane

    My household income is above average. I am fortunate to live a good life and able to afford many lifestyle choices. One of those lifestyle choices is shopping at thrift stores. No one should judge me for whether I shop at Nordstrom or Goodwill or garage sales…..it’s my business what I do with my time and money.
    I don’t shop for clothing much (that includes at all new and used clothing stores), because I already have more than I need. I buy many household items at the thrift stores and love hunting for items that I need and am able to put to good use.

  41. Masako

    I am an average income earner. I shop at Thrift stores, use coupons and buy stuff on sale so I can afford a nice vacation once a year. Where are how people shop is a matter of personal preference.

  42. Masako

    I do not see anything wrong with
    middle or higher class people shopping at thrift shops. There is no rule stopping lower income people from buying steak and lobster with their food stamps or spending their welfare checks at Nordstrom.

  43. Thrift stores don’t sell at the prices they do in order to help out the poor, they sell the clothes for the price people will pay. You can take a brand new outfit that cost $30 in the stores, tags attached, and be lucky to get fifty cents for it at a yard sale. Used clothes just don’t sell for much.

  44. Shopping at thrift stores is always a good thing and here’s why. Though you may not find something for yourself, you might find something peculiar and want to re-sell it online for a quick turnaround side hustle profit. This method of visiting thrift stores and reselling online has made many people to day a “side hustle millionaire.” So yes, in my opinion I agree it’s okay for existing “side hustle millionaires” to shop at thrift stores! 🙂

  45. A.Roddy

    Money is not what makes a person. The jealousy card is tiresome.

  46. Gabriella

    I have never heard anyone in my life, make a moral argument against shopping at a thrift store! Sorry you had to experience that!

    Buying second hand is great for the environment too!

  47. Pamela

    I can’t tell you how many times clients would say those same things to me when I was managing a consignment store. It was like a double-standard, it was no problem for them to consign and make money off their clothing, but they would never shop there themselves as it was for “lesser people” than them. I am considered lower-middle class income, I am very thrifty and have a nice small home, fully decorated and I have nice things to wear. You’d never know to look at me that nothing I have is new and I paid a fraction of the retail for it. I’m a proud thrifter!

  48. Aidbdiandjdk

    Thankyou. My mom doesn’t let me thrift shop because she said “you dont shop from where you donate” and its “philosophically wrong.” I’m definitely going to use this to help convince her otherwise.

  49. Jose

    Should poor people be allowed to buy products in high end stores? The question is silly. Of course anyone can shop wherever they want. Morality doesn’t equal legality and this is free country.

  50. Linda

    My home is paid for, and I drive a brand new car. I proudly shop at thrift, Goodwill, Salvation Army Store wherever I can find a great deal. I found a designer coat for 7 bucks the other day. It just makes GOOD SENSE. I can afford new and expensive when I want to, but thrift shopping is the bomb. I love it.

  51. eat the rich

    great article! this totally makes me feel better being an actual poor person who can literally only afford to buy cheap, mostly used, necessities but who can’t find anything that legitimately looks good because by the time i am able to make it to a thrift store (as i work three jobs) they’ve all been picked clean of the desirable shit by yuppies who don’t know what it does to someone’s self esteem when you’re forced to wear ugly crap your whole life! i’m so glad i decided to look up the consensus on this issue as i was standing in line at a good will with just two plain t-shirts and an itchy sweater!! so glad you get to pinch pennies! that must feel great, to be able to have extra left over with all you’re saving!! meanwhile i HAVE TO buy these clothes because if i don’t i am forced to make trips to the laundromat more frequently, wasting time and money i don’t have. i don’t shop here because it puts extra in my pocket. i shop here because it’s my only choice. i never have extra in my pocket. you could shop at upscale consignment stores or vintage boutiques if you really want to lower your carbon footprint. if middle class hipsters just did that, it would leave so many more options to poor people so we can actually /shop/ instead of begrudgingly pay for things that will make us feel like undesirables. people donate to the needy, for a cause, not simply to recycle. how about you leave those donations to the needy and stick to literally everything else on earth that is available to you. god forbid a poor person has a date or job interview. fuck. y’all really don’t want us to ever have anything nice. not even when it’s used. maybe think about the immediate moral consequences of your shopping habits as well as future environmental ones. but good for you! so happy you established everything is for your taking! fuck what poor people want!

    1. Did you even read the article? Or, do you know the mission of many of these thrift stores?

      I’m guessing this isn’t a real comment, but still.

      1. I am sure it’s not a real comment. Employees at most thrift shops keep putting out more items throughout the day as stocks get depleted. A person can come in at any time and find a good selection. If anyone finds a store’s stock “picked over” at the end of the day, they should just go to a different thrift store.

    2. JC

      I honestly don’t believe you. I go to the thrift store sporadically and there is almost always something there.

    3. Lola Bard

      Wow! Sorry you’re so self-loathing!

    4. Nadja

      You said that you need to take more trips to the laundromat more frequently, wasting time and money. Are you seriusly saying that you buy clothes instead of washing them? That is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard. Maybe you could wash them instead and therefore save some money. Try it.

      1. emma

        oh i think she meant that if she didn’t buy the clothes available at the thrift store she would be forced to go to the laundromat more often because she wouldn’t have enough clothing to wear throughout the week otherwise. she is trying to say that she has such a small amount of clothing that she would have to consistently wash what little she has to be able to wear anything at all.

    5. Mary

      I believe this is a real comment and have felt the same way. I needed clothes for job interviews and it was really my only option. People with a lot of money go in there buying up the nice things, and I just need one decent option that looks like it fits.

      For the well off people that go thrift store shopping because it is “fashionable” and “fun”, if you aren’t at a higher priced consignment shop, consider not buying utility clothing like warm coats, suits, button down blouses, or only get a few items. You can rationalize it if it makes you feel better, but be aware other people may need those items to get by.

  52. Brig

    Actually, people with low income no longer can afford to shop at Goodwill. If it is a cup, a glass, or a plate, they all market up to $ 1.99. Clothes have also ridiculous prices. I will not ever again shop at Goodwill, nor will I donate to them or promote this store.
    BTW, Goodwill International CEO, Jim Gibbons, made $729,000 in salary and deferred compensation.
    I wonder if he is the one who ordered such huge price increase in the stores?

    1. Try the ARC if you have it in our community. A nice plate costs 50 to 75 cents, a mug 50 cents, and near the end of the month they mark everything down to a quarter, and on the last day, to a dime. Yes there are still GOOD things left, not just at the end of the day but the end of the month. They just haven’t been found by the right buyer. We see a lot of very expensive cars parked outside, too – especially on the sale days!

  53. Joan

    I grew up in NY and my mom went to thrift stores. I was 16 when I bought my first dress at a regular store! I never felt deprived. My circumstances changed when I married and moved to Ct but having a large family and getting through some tough times I would shop at thrift stores. My four year old son was so proud to pick out a shirt for himself (2 sizes too big) he wore it proudly for two yrs!
    Now I am old. I shop for a friend in assisted living because she cannot afford much and has no one to take her shopping. If something I give her doesn’t fit she can give it away and I haven’t spent a ton of money. God bless everyone who shops at thrift stores and the people who donate to them!

  54. Of course people with high incomes should be able to shop at thrift stores! The very idea of “not allowing” someone to shop somewhere reeks of totalitarianism. This is America. Shop where you please,

  55. Lynne

    Where I live, thrift stores receive more in donations than they can sell. Goodwill has a special store where unsold items from their other stores are given one more chance to be sold, and everything is priced by the pound.

  56. Bea

    The way I look at things, the real purposeof these nont-for-profits is creating cash from donations to support the community (either through jobs, food banks, and other community projects). Selling their inventory, whoever buys them rich or poor should be promoted so more revenue is obtained. Of course, these shops also are able to provide affordable clothing for the ones who need it and help those with higher income a source of vintage and green shopping that can help reduce waste on the planet. Donating clothes, repurposing as d reusing products, should be something highly encouraged to everyone regardless of our income. Where I live in Canada it’s not uncommon to see fashionistas trying to get the latest vintage piece from thrriftshop and they buy in bulk and often. All that money goes to charitable activities and salaries. I would say… Bring it on! Everyone should shop on thrift shops and donate as well.

  57. Kaiser soze

    if you are rich and shop at discount stores, you should be hung by the neck in the public square