The History of Thrift Store Shopping

The History of Thrift Store Shopping

Amelia Keniksman, Staff Writer

Whether it’s clothes or furniture, many people in 2023 love to go to thrift stores. It is seen as a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to wear clothes, and most who do thrift clothing really enjoy the way that vintage clothing looks. Thrifitng has begun to become very popular over the years, but many wonder, where did it all begin? 

Ever since clothes have existed, people have been repurposing worn-out clothes. Nothing went to waste,when someone ripped something they’d make a smaller item, and when they got worn out they’d tear and stuff a pillow with it.

The concept of thrift shops and thrifting began in the early 19th century, with charities and religious organizations collecting clothing and selling them. Along with this, during the time there was a mass surge in immigration, and many of those immigrants, specifically Jewish Immigrants, would sell used clothes from carts in order to make money. However, thrift shops did not have widespread popularity until the Great Depression. 

The Great Depression started in 1929, and it led to many people struggling to make ends meet. Most people were homeless, and they barely had enough money to feed themselves, let alone buy new clothing. During these times. Many would patch up old clothes in order to make their clothes last longer. During these dark times, The Salvation army started its business. This specific thrift store started out in a man’s basement, where he and his workers would walk around asking for used clothes.

A similar thing happened in World War II, with people not being able to afford clothes because of the war. During these times, business at thrift stores like The Salvation Army and Goodwill would begin to be used much more often. Even after the war people would commonly go to thrift stores and donate their clothing, as they could now afford to get better materials and styles. 

All in all, thrift stores are a relatively new idea that has been around for ~100 years, but has brought Americans all over relief during hardships.