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The History of Thrift Store Shopping

The History of Thrift Store Shopping

Thrift stores have almost become second nature in modern times as a great way to save money on essential items, but they weren’t always seen as such. The idea of thrift stores is actually more recent than one would think. With the future looking bright for thrift stores, we shouldn’t forget their beginning stages that made them into what you know today. Let’s examine the history of thrift store shopping to see how it all began.

Rocky Beginnings

Way back in the day—we’re talking close to colonial times—buying things secondhand was considered an embarrassment. It was thought that buying secondhand clothing was not only uncouth but unhealthy as well. Even though it was not looked upon favorably, secondhand sales were still happening, but it would be some time before the idea of a thrift shop would come into the public eye.

The Industrial Revolution

In the late 19th century, during the industrial revolution, clothes began being manufactured at a frantic pace. Mass production of clothes—and, therefore, lower prices on them—was one of the first benefits of the revolution. However, this made people see clothing as much more disposable, leading to tons of waste. This is when pawn shops and scrap stores started to show up to reuse these materials rather than throw them away.

Legitimizing the Business

While buying secondhand was still considered to be a sign of low wealth and status, a lot of this kind of thinking changed when religious-affiliated groups started to use these secondhand products to help the poor and homeless. This led to a prosperous beginning for thrift stores in the 20th century. By the 1920s, buying secondhand was viewed as more about helping out your fellow man rather than something that you did because you were poor.

The Great Depression and Its Aftermath

The history of thrift store shopping changed drastically with the advent of the Great Depression. Demand was so high for secondhand items that thrift stores at the time couldn’t keep up. As World War II ended, and the country was in a better place financially, supply quickly rose again because people wanted to flaunt their new wealth with newer items.

Vintage Becomes the Trend

Wanting to find vintage items from secondhand stores is not as modern of an idea as you might think. As early as the 1950s, many people started to go to thrift stores in search of vintage couture items. That trend of finding something beautiful from back in the day has carried thrift stores all the way through into the 21st century.

It’s Never Been Easier

Nowadays, the process of buying secondhand from thrift stores is even easier thanks to the Internet. The desire for affordable clothing and home goods hasn’t waned in the slightest and 2nd Avenue is right in the thick of it. Check out our thrift shops in Philadelphia if you want to get in on the fun and savings of buying secondhand.