3 Reasons to Shop at Thrift Stores (and not feel guilty)

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If you’ve hung around Organized 31 much, you know that almost every craft and organizing project I do starts with a recycled itemI’ll psychoanalyze myself another time and tell you why that is, but let’s just accept that fact that I like to repurpose items

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Often I start with an item that I already have, but I also hit the thrift stores for inspiration. I’ve had several conversations with friends who hesitate to shop at thrift stores because they feel guilty taking items from somebody who might really need them.  My experience volunteering for 3 years at a charitable organization with a thrift store (at one point I was even responsible for the housewares section) gave me insight into how a charitable thrift store operates.    My friends have found this information helpful and have even started thrifting.  I was recently  encouraged to share my insight on charitable thrift stores so that more people can shop at thrift stores and not feel guilty.
Charitable thrift stores receive all kinds of donated merchandise. For-profit thrift stores or consignment stores are more discerning about the merchandise that they accept.  Since my friends feel guilty about shopping at charitable thrift stores I’ll focus on that type of thrifting.  Please understand that I’m telling you about my experiences and there will always be exceptions to how thrift stores are operated.

3 Reasons You Should Shop at a Thrift Store – And Not Feel Guilty

Charitable thrift stores open to the public exist to generate income. 

Charitable thrift stores that are open to the public are open to provide merchandise at discounted prices to raise income to cover operating and program expenses.  Operating a charitable thrift store is hard work.  You would not believe the garbage that is donated and someone has to sort through (I will never forget sorting through a bag of donations and finding a plate with a piece of pancake and a fork stuck to it with syrup!).  Fitting the donated merchandise into a small retail space with no budget to purchase more shelves or racks is always a challenge. Paying rent, utilities, insurance, etc. is also a challenge for a charitable organization.  I could go on about the challenges, but understand that the charitable organization has chosen to operate a thrift store that is open to the public to generate income to support their programs.  The thrift store could choose to only serve their clients and not the public, like the one I worked at.  So, if the charitable thrift store is open to the public, it is so that they can generate income for their programs.

When you shop at a charitable thrift shop you are supporting that charitable organization’s programs through the income you provide.  If you support that organization’s mission you shouldn’t feel guilty purchasing items from the store, you should feel happy that you’re supporting that organization.

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Charitable thrift stores often provide employment training

Most charitable thrift stores provide employment opportunites to their clients.  Among the needs of charitable organizations’ clients is often job training and employment experience.  We all know how difficult it was to land our first job.  Imagine how much more difficult that is if you’re in an at-risk situation, for example being homeless.  Some clients have had job training but due to their current situation, for example substance abuse, need to develop a recent employment history.  Charitable thrift stores provide employment assistance and the satisfaction of earning a paycheck to their clients and former clients.  When you choose to shop at these thrift stores, you’re choosing to provide job training, experience, and income with dignity to the employees of the thrift store. 

Thrift stores and recycling useful items is good for the environment

We should all be conscious of not being wasteful and taking care of the earth.  It’s just the right thing to do.  When you choose to shop at thrift stores you’re keeping these items from being thrown into the landfill and additional resources being used to create new items.  Why not save the environment by using items that have already been created and are still useful.  Why not keep them from just being thrown away.

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Shopping at thrift stores is not for everyone and that’s fine.  But if you feel guilty about shopping at a charitable thrift store, please think twice and remember these 3 reasons that you should shop at thrift stores.

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  1. Hi Susan – We love our thrift store! There are so many awesome treasures to be found there! Thanks for sharing some of the behind the scenes. Hugs, Holly

  2. I feel like you wrote this post specifically for me. I have my own strange, psychological reasons for avoiding thrift shops and garage sales. I don’t judge other people for shopping them but have a germophobe reaction that kicks into gear whenever I even think about doing it. I’ve known for a long time I need to overcome this and this post gives me several reasons to try harder. Thank you!

    1. I share your germaphobe reaction, Corinne. I only purchase items that can be washed in the clothes washer, the dish washer or cleaned well with disinfecting wipes. There are plenty of items that I won’t buy because I can’t clean them well enough for my hang up.

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  4. These are great reasons to shop at a thrift store. I think the one that strikes me the most is being kinder to the earth. Thanks for sharing these and I will keep them in mind.

    1. Thrifting can be such a wonderful treasure hunt, Jenn. Be sure to check out my other posts on thrift store shopping.

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