The thrill of thrifting

Students don’t always have to go to the mall to find fashion.


Erika Kovach

Seniors Emma Melching and Taaha Khan show off the clothing they’ve bought at thrift stores.

Surely you’ve driven past a shoddy-looking Goodwill, tucked into to the back of a strip mall while driving around town. Did you ever think that such a store could hold potential for an entirely new wardrobe?

Within the last two years, thrift shopping has become a normalized part of pop culture and trends. Yet to many, it is still an unfamiliar happening.

Evalyn Petty, FACS teacher at South High, defines thrifting.

“Getting something second-hand,” she said. 

This is a familiar concept to many. So what makes thrift shopping so unique as of late?

“People like the idea of giving clothes a new life and styling things that could be seen as ‘out of style’,” senior thrifter Emma Melching said.

Melching said she frequents thrift stores for a more practical reason–to save money.

“I thrift because it’s cheaper than buying retail and I don’t contribute to fast fashion!” Melching said.

Many people have seen issues with shopping through the pandemic. Shipping costs are much higher, going into certain stores still poses the risk of health, and even essential items such as car parts and home utilities are incredibly difficult to acquire. 

According to an article written by Forbes, the consumer price index for clothing has increased by 4.9% since June 2020, with jumps up to 15.8% in price for in-demand items like dresses or outwear. 

Beyond the appeal of both cost and accessibility, buying items second-hand provides an aspect of uniqueness, according to senior Riya Bledsoe.

“I think it makes [clothing] special. I like having unique clothes in my closet and knowing that no one is going to find the same thing at a department store. Also, I like knowing that I’m helping the planet at least slightly,” she said. 

When you shop second-hand, there’s an off chance that someone would be able to find the exact same item as you– previously worn and reused, and therefore not currently in stores. 

So, where should you get started? The good news is, our local area has a plethora of resources to begin your journey and has proved successful amidst recent thrifting trends. 

Senior Taaha Khan lists some of his favorite stores. 

“Probably Plato’s [Closet] and Goodwill,” he said. 

The good thing? These two stores are both chains, with various locations in the St. Louis area. The nearest Goodwill is just about nine minutes away from school, located on Manchester Rd, with the closest Plato’s being about 5 minutes down the street from that. This means in one trip, you might be able to travel to multiple locations and find new, unique items at each one. 

If you find yourself looking for something a bit more unique, shopping areas in St. Louis (think Historic Main Street in St. Charles or the Delmar Loop) sport a variety of smaller antique/vintage stores that can be fun to explore, or even heading downtown to Salvation Army can provide a change of pace.

One of the intrigues of thrifting is finding both unique and wearable pieces. Stores are often so large and extensive, it may be difficult to determine where to start.

Melching said she likes to have company when she shops. 

“I like going with my friends! It’s always more fun when you have people who can help you decide whether or not you should buy an item,” she said.

Khan said he has favorite clothing items to shop for at thrift stores.

“Crewnecks and hoodies are usually my favorite items to find, especially nowadays because I don’t have many,” he said.

Like shopping at a regular store, you can usually find just about any item of clothing that may pique your interest–just discounted! Many stores even have sections for shoes, pajamas, athleisure, and other less-than-typical choices.

Beyond that, thrift stores often provide homes with other accessories and items. 

“I love finding bags from the 2000’s or different decades…” Bledsoe said.

While Petty mentions, 

“I can sometimes find high-quality pieces of furniture that just need a little love.”

This can make thrift shopping all the more of an experience when coming across items beyond just clothes– from home decor to children’s toys, you never know what you might find. 

For some, thrifting can allow ownership of a piece especially memorable or exciting. 

“My Fortnite ‘Eat Sleep Repeat’ shirt is probably my favorite. Iconic,” Khan said. 

Other times, items might be found in the most unexpected places.

“I found a super cute slip dress size 12 in kids that fits amazing…” Bledsoe said.

Fortunately, these great finds aren’t as difficult or rare as they may seem. 

Bledsoe offers advice for students interested in starting to thrift. 

“Look at EVERYTHING, and if something catches your eye, take it and sort through everything when you’re about to check out. Also, don’t pay too much attention to price as you’re general ‘safe’ in that aspect,” Bledsoe said. 

If you’re really stumped, perhaps try taking a look online. With the topic trending, there’s so much information out there to find! For example, many teen employees mention that new clothes usually get put out on Saturdays, a great way to get in early to scout out new finds. 

Another thing? Less guilt in spending– you can know you might be doing something to help the environment!

“I think we are a country of waste. We need to learn to revamp and reuse to save our world,” Petty said. 

While thrifting can be a good thing, both for your pocket and for the environment, there might also be a cautionary tale to behold, according to Melching.

“It’s possible that mainstream thrifting could lead to a lack of usable clothes for low-income families who actually need thrifted clothes,” she said.

It’s important to remember that prices are cheaper in these stores for a reason. Yes, used clothing may personally seem like a small price to pay for cheaper options, but to many families, this is all they CAN afford. It’s important to shop in moderation and perhaps be more conscious in areas like downtown St. Louis that may need these sorts of goods. 

In conscious practice though, thrifting can be a new practice that may just gain you new sights, experiences, and items. 

“I recommend doing it! If you like shopping, there are too many good things about thrifting to not pass it by. It’s also just fun because you never really know what you’ll find,” Bledsoe said.