Shoppers say secondhand stores like Goodwill are getting too expensive as Gen Z makes thrifting cool
- TikTokers are complaining about high prices in secondhand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army.
- Some shoppers are blaming Gen Z consumers for pricing them out of these stores.
Shoppers are complaining that the price of secondhand goods at thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army has shot up, and they're blaming wealthy teens.
TikTokers have posted videos of recent trips to secondhand stores, showing hefty price tags on certain items, and footage of other items that just seem to be entirely mispriced: nondescript Starbucks mugs that cost $9, a set of Fiestaware plates for over $30, and jeans that are being sold for the same price that they were bought for in the first place.
The US thrift market has grown substantially in recent years and thrifting has become a popular pursuit of Gen Z shoppers, who have been credited with championing a more sustainable way to shop. According to secondhand marketplace ThredUp, the market for secondhand goods in the US is expected to grow 16 times faster than the full-price clothing market and be worth $82 billion by 2026.
But Gen Z shoppers aren't only buying secondhand items for themselves. Instead, they are reselling their "thrift hauls" at a premium on secondhand platforms like Poshmark and Depop and it seems to be sending prices up across the board.
These sellers have been branded as "scammers" by some on social media and compared to landlords that drive up rents and force people out of affordable housing. It's "the gentrification of thrift stores," Vox wrote.
But experts say it's not the resellers that should be blamed for price hikes, though their "hauls" may be the reason that secondhand shops are raising prices.
"We should look at the corporate facilities, even as they're classed as nonprofit organizations. That is a dubious delineation when it comes to major secondhand clothing corporations," Jennifer Le Zotte, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington told Vox.
Goodwill states on its website that it aims to price donations "at a fair market value based on the brand and condition of the item."
A spokesperson from its head operation, which oversees 155 Goodwill organizations – each one running its own stores in various parts of the US – told Insider it is up to each of these divisions to determine their own pricing.
Goodwill also says that it donates all of its profits back into its mission of helping people in need to find jobs in the community and learn valuable skills. Still, while higher prices generate bigger returns to put back into the business, it can make it harder for shoppers in need to find affordable clothes.
Insider contacted Salvation Army for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
23-year-old Stefani Colvin, who has been thrifting since 2016, told Insider that prices have been gradually on the rise in thrift stores.
"Thrift stores have been doing research and either price the vintage super high ($50-100 for jackets) or overlook the vintage and charge $15 for Shein clothing, which by the way is MORE expensive in the thrift stores than on the actual website," she said.
Last summer, Colvin spotted several clothing items from low-cost brands like Shein, Fashion Nova, and Nasty Gal that were priced at $15 to $20 in a Thriftsmart in Nashville, Tennessee. This is what you might expect to spend when you shop directly from these stores.
These higher prices could lead some consumers back into the arms of fast fashion retailers. As one Twitter user noted when commenting on Goodwill's prices: "Counting pennies means buying new sometimes," and in this case, secondhand stores may not be the most affordable option.
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