Secondhand is becoming first rate. No longer just for scrimpers and savers, used goods are attracting shoppers of all kinds. Even some traditional retail stores are going thrift-y in hopes of winning customers back.
Laura Fiebert admits being obsessed with thrift stores. The Head of Operations and writer at Listen Money Matters likens wandering the aisles as she deal-hunts to “exploring a magical treasure trove.” She writes, “I’m not broke or cheap, but I will never pay full price for anything, EVER.”
Fiebert isn’t alone. Today’s shoppers aren’t interested in paying full price. Statistics show that about 17% of Americans shop at thrift stores, while 12 to 15% visit consignment or resale shops. (Thrift shops usually sell donated goods; consignment/resale shops sell used goods for others and keep some of the profits.)
For years, shoppers have been buying and selling used clothes at such shops and on eBay. Through those outlets, they find great deals on clothes they could not normally afford. Plus, many would rather see clothes reused than sent to a landfill. But many physical resale shops were dingy, and sometimes it took weeks or even months for consigners to receive payment for their goods.
Then came a new generation of online resellers like ThredUP and Poshmark. They flourished because they made the shopping experience easier with new technology like virtual try-on options.
However, many of these businesses now see the need for physical stores. That’s partly because nearly 80% of customers born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s enjoy going to stores.
James Reinhart is co-founder and CEO of ThredUP. His company has seen the handwriting on the wall: “You have to go where the customer is going,” he says. ThredUP now runs brick-and-mortar stores in the San Francisco area.
Resale is now becoming so mainstream that traditional retailers can’t ignore it.
This spring, department store chain Neiman Marcus invested in Fashionphile, an online seller of pre-owned designer accessories. Neiman Marcus will launch shops inside some stores where customers can sell items to Fashionphile.
J.C. Penney and Macy’s are getting into the secondhand game too. The stores will sell used merchandise from ThredUP in certain locations.
Most experts applaud the second-time-around strategy as a way to drive customers into stores. But they also see some downsides: Could selling secondhand undermine regular retail business and anger new goods suppliers?
There’s no guarantee that resale will lure young shoppers back to the mall. Still, as ThredUP’s Reinhart says, “Trying to live in the past is a recipe for disaster.”
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:13-14