Is thrifting going mainstream?
If you missed National Thrift Store Day on August 17 you weren’t alone, but next year’s event might garner a little more attention as the thrift store space keeps expanding.
Second-hand retail experienced a surge in popularity beginning with the last economic recession, according to an article on PYMNTS. Research by thredUP cited in the article indicates that the reselling of thrift clothing alone is slated to be a $33 billion industry by 2021.
Second-hand retail isn’t the only space popular with price-sensitive shoppers that has expanded dramatically since 2008’s recession. Off-price apparel retail, low-price grocery and dollar stores have all spiked in popularity.
But thrift store shopping has more in common with other popular retail models than just the low price. The “treasure hunt” element of the shopping experience that draws shoppers to retailers such as T.J. Maxx is a built-in part of thrift store shopping. With the retailers themselves unsure what product might come in the door, there’s always the opportunity to find something new and different — especially for those shoppers who’ve developed a talent for thrifting.
While thrift store prices are generally low, that’s not always the case. For instance Pets.com CEO Julie Wainwright founded an online consignment shop for luxury goods called The RealReal that she intends to take public. And she is also planning moves into brick-and-mortar, including a possible giant second-hand “superstore,” according to an article on Racked.
Second-hand luxury retail may appeal to a different shopper than either small vintage consignment shops or large national chains and non-profits. But the idea of The RealReal going for an IPO and a big urban brick-and-mortar location raises the question of whether small thrift stores may face new competition from publicly-traded chains as dollar stores have.
Mom-and-pop urban dollar stores, once thought to be impervious to big box disruption, are having to find ways to keep from being undercut by big chains setting up shop. And if shoppers develop a new openness to thrifting, it would seem that big thrift store chains like Savers/Value Village would want to take advantage of it.
- Retail Thrifting Through Retail Finds – PYMNTS
- Can indie dollar stores compete with the big chains? – RetailWire
- $173 Million Later, The Real Real Is Officially Consignment Queen – Racked
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Could thrift stores spike in popularity as dollar stores did? What will determine the success of the latest generation of thrift stores and vintage shopping? Would large chain stores prosper in the thrift segment?