The Benefits of Thrift Shopping

17 09 2012

Recently I took on a new writing client. I wrote two articles for them before they bothered to mention that “Oh yeah, you won’t get a byline and you can’t tell anyone you wrote these articles because they belong to us now.” Now, I don’t consider myself a vain person, but it’s kind of hard to build a portfolio when you’re writing under those constraints. It would have been nice to have that income, but I told them “No thanks” and parted ways with them. This is the second article I wrote for them, which  I withdrew from consideration.

The Benefits of Thrift Shopping

By Jeremy Clymer

Thrift shopping. It has a negative stigma in some social circles. It calls to mind cheapness, desperation, and smelling like someone else’s old farts. Elsewhere it is better regarded, as a symbol of thriftiness or even “hipness,” that elusive quality sought after by countless young folk through the annals of time. Yes, there are downsides to thrift shopping, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. By thrift shopping you can dress well for a minimal amount of money, help the less fortunate, and ultimately cultivate a feeling of smug superiority that will set you apart from your peers and their overpriced fineries.

It is a well-known fact that the minute you drive a new car off the lot it dramatically decreases in value. That’s why so many people buy used cars; the savings make it kind of silly not to. But did you know the same applies for clothes? As soon as you cut the tag off that new shirt and wear it out to dinner with that guy or girl you’re trying to impress, it loses most of its value. Some “boutique” secondhand clothes stores will buy it off you, but only for pennies on the dollar. Compare that to buying used clothes at your local thrift store. Now you are paying pennies on the dollar for clothes that someone else foolishly purchased straight off the rack. Feel free to mention that to all of your friends, acquaintances, and peers when they strut around in their barely-faded garments. They will no doubt be shocked and awed by your superior wisdom. They will almost certainly be tearing their own shirts off Incredible Hulk-like in fits of self-excoriation, at which point you can wrap them in your own reasonably-priced jacket, pat them on the head, and tell them everything will be OK.

If saving money doesn’t motivate you, perhaps do-gooding will. Most thrift stores have a charitable mission. If you’re not sure what that charitable mission is, ask them. If you ask a cashier, you may be met with a blank stare. That’s because caring about such things is above their pay grade, which is most likely minimum wage. Instead, their minds are focused on things such as constantly re-arranging the same piles of clothing over and over again, applying disinfectant to their hands, and wondering “My god, what is that smell?” Instead, ask a manager. You’ll know who the manager is because he or she will be the one standing astride piles of money, lighting Cuban cigars, and using those Cuban cigars to light the piles of money on fire. “We provide job training for the unemployed,” this hero of industry might tell you, or “We buy Bibles for people who would probably rather we bought them food instead.” Warning: smile politely at the manager and do not make eye contact, for that might be seen as a sign of aggression.

Let’s say that saving money and/or helping the less fortunate isn’t really your thing. Your primary concern is that the people around you think you are much cooler than they are. Well, thrift shopping has you covered there, too.  Buying and wearing clothes that could only be enjoyed ironically is a bedrock of modern hipsterism, and if you’re the sort of person who reads Infinite Jest while listening to The Decemberists and drinking horchata then that’s probably the look you’re going for. Sure, you could go shopping at Sears or Walmart for truly awful clothes, but for some reason that’s just not the same. Dressing in ill-fitting, cigarette-burned plaid trousers and a family reunion t-shirt from someone else’s family reunion? Now that’s where it’s at. Cultivate a curlicue mustache to go along with it and you will be the toast of the hookah lounge. (This advice also applies to women.)

With all these reasons to shop at thrift stores, you really should be ashamed of yourself if you shop anywhere else. Buying used clothing saves money, helps the less fortunate, and makes you hip and fashionable. In comparison, what benefits can be had by buying new clothes? Not having to Febreeze your shirt before each time you wear it? Avoiding the embarrassment of a coworker pointing out a stain on your crotch that you didn’t notice in the store? Yeah, maybe, if those sorts of things are your priorities. Enjoy being a slave to the corporate machine.

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