Are your thrift hauls ethical? What to know before you cash out

Lee Thomas, thrift connoisseur

Thrifting has boomed as a public activity within the last few years thanks to social media promoting the “finds” that buyers can score from a trip (and no thanks to Macklemore). Since what got me bullied in middle and high school is now a “trend,” it’s only right that I lend some advice on maintaining a healthy thrift shop ecosystem. You might’ve already considered the dilemmas of faux fur and leather or of buying up work clothes for your unemployed lifestyle, but here are some additional thrift practices to keep in mind:

Ten-second rule

Whenever you come across a mind-blowingly fantastic skirt, a quirky T-shirt or some really nice Carhartt pants, don’t just snatch it up and stuff it into your shopping cart hoping no one else saw. This prevents the free and equal market that capitalism touts as essential to life. Call out to the store, “What a great find!” Give it ten seconds, and if no other shopper creeps over to investigate, it’s yours. If others spot the #1 Grandfather mug in your hands during the ten seconds and want a piece, you fight to the death over it the good old fashion way. It’s what Adam Smith would’ve wanted. 

Support small, local businesses

If you’re going to drain your credit card at a thrift store, shoot for local spots. Walla Walla has two locations for its beloved Yeehaw Aloha, a charitable group affiliated with Young Life, a missionary-driven, evangelical organization that excludes LGBTQ+ people and their allies and has numerous sexual assault allegations against its leaders. Instead of buying new clothes from some big corporation, make sure your money goes to a good cause! 

Don’t underestimate the value of “ugly” sweaters

If you think to yourself, “Who is gonna want this?” just know that I want it, and I want it now. You buying it for yourself, for revamping or for reselling, instead of giving it to me to expand my collection is selfish and wrong. Gimme it. 

Keep these three etiquette tips in mind as you pillage St. Vincent’s on a Sunday or the recently moved Goodwill in your brand new Honda Civic that your parents gifted you.