Thrifting industry booms due to environmentally conscious consumers

Global Business

Thrifting industry booms due to environmentally conscious consumers

With second-hand goods becoming extremely popular, more people are turning thrifting into a living.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from the U.S. state of Colorado.

Macradee Aegerter is on a mission.

“What do I do?” she asked the other day. “I shop every day, in stores you probably never go in.”

We found her rifling through racks of clothes at a thrift store in Aurora, Colorado. Her job is finding high end, vintage clothes she can buy cheaply and resell for a nice profit later on.

“It’s so much more fun than shopping in malls you know,” Aegerter said.

She frequents not only thrift stores but estate sales and combs through web sites like Craigslist.

“It takes a special person to be able to go through rack through rack and pick out the gems in a pile of junk,” Aegerter said.

In fact, thrifting or reselling is now helping drive fashion sales and turned into a huge industry.

“It’s definitely exploding today,” said Sally Baalbaki-Yassine, an associate professor of branding and marketing at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Everybody’s talking about it.”

She said cost-conscious younger consumers, in particular, are looking for cool, hip clothes they can also keep from getting tossed into the trash.

“I think there’s been less of a focus on clothing being a status symbol and more of a focus on getting a good deal,” said Baalbaki-Yassine. “And getting a bargain. Being sustainable.”

Used clothing now makes up a booming online marketplace. The sale of secondhand goods is projected to more than double in the U.S. in the next three years. With companies like Poshmark, The RealReal and ThredUP among those leading the way.

“I love finding those pieces,” said Renee Suiter, a Littleton, Colorado woman who has always loved styling people. She now sells bohemian and country chic clothing full-time for Poshmark, which keeps 20 percent of her revenues.

“When you’re part of an app that really likes to bring people together and we help each other, it’s very social,” Suiter said. “And you develop these relationships with your customers. You’re able to speak with them through the app.”

Good resellers have an eagle eye for quality.

“You’re looking for good construction, fabric,” Aegerter said.

That maybe wasn’t fully appreciated by the original owner but often translates into big dollars for them.

“This is a thousand dollar jacket that I paid $120 for,” Aegerter said, holding up one clothing item in her Denver basement. “This is a nice Diane Von Furstenberg dress I found today for eight dollars.”

Suiter recently snapped up a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes for nine dollars and hopes to sell them for 189.

“It is when the thrifting gods are with you, you just get all crazy,” Suiter said laughing. “It’s like my drug.”

“It’s the high when you find something amazing,” Aegerter agreed. “That high, you can’t quit.”

Times have changed. Clothes have become temporary possessions for many people.

“They call it the circular closet,” Baalbaki-Yassine said. “So they buy something, resell it, buy something different.”

Much of it online, one reason brick and mortar stores are also getting into the used clothing game. It’s where the money is.

“I am making a very good living,” Suiter confirmed.

It turns out one person’s junk really is another person’s treasure.

“It’s an interesting world we’re living in,” Aegerter said. “I feel so lucky.”