Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is it Greedy to Thrift for Resell? Should We Leave Thrifts for the Truly Needy? Let's Discuss.

"Are you a reseller?" you may be asked by a voice dripping with distain while you're thrifting. Many people have the attitude that resellers are greedy, taking items that "truly needy" shoppers should use. A smaller number say thrift stores should be reserved for those in dire need and those who can "afford" to shop retail stores should do so.



Katy over at The Non-Consumer Advocate recently wrote a post about such a comment on her Facebook group:

“I have seen several posts on this group as of late about buying an item for a low price just to sell it for more. What gives? I would think being a NCA you would want other people to find a good deal or sell something at a good price. Not sure my thoughts follow the greedy mentally I have seen in the last several posts that have graced my newsfeed.” - See more here
I'm a lifelong thrifter/dumpster diver/re-purposer/upcycler and frugal-ass person as my mom was and her mother before her. I have seen first-hand, a lifetime's worth of overflowing excess on curbsides, in dumpsters, at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. There is more than enough to go around, painfully enough to go around. There is so much unclaimed free and next-to-it "junk" out there it makes me dizzy. I've had to stop hunting because there's too much and I have picked enough!


I can't fathom fighting over anything with so much abundance out there.


Similar to this conversation is the debate on whether or not it's "greedy" to buy thrifted finds for so little and sell it for a "high" profit. This is ridiculous because that's how business works. It's the rule of retail, everyone buys low to sell higher for a profit. There's no shame in it and everyone's entitled to sell whatever they buy for whatever they want to make a living for themselves and save up for their future and/or their family's future. For some reason it's just more stigmatized for a reseller because we seem to be getting such a good deal and "ripping people off" when we sell it for more. We're providing a hunting service, uniting customer's with an item they truly desire, all while avoiding the big retail machine that wastes precious fossil fuels, pollutes the planet, and mistreats overseas workers. Factoring in hunting, gas, cleaning, photographing, research and listing a "higher" price is justified just to get ourselves paid and then making some profit on top of that.

Furthermore, when everyone shops at thrift stores supporting charities it's a win/win situation. Many thrift stores support those in need with their profits.

I say we all have the right to unapologetically use the thrift store as a resource to make a profit or a resource to save our hard-earned money no matter what our income is.

What do you think? Should thrift stores be left for the needy, are resellers and casual "non-needy" thrifters being greedy?

37 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more! And usually the stuff I am purchasing from thrift stores is typically not the type of items that needy families are interested in. I am very glad to hear you address this topic!

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    1. Indubitably. I'm buying a little bit of vintage clothes and random kitschy bits. Still, for anyone needy who wants to resell there's plenty to go around. We're usually niche shoppers and don't buy all the things...not that i's possible to do so.

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    2. I don't think it is a problem the way that goodwill and all the thrift stores have jacked there price up the poor can't afford it anyway. Also if they cannot sell it for a super inflated price they throw it away and still don't give it to the poor. So ask yourself who is wrong the re seller that is working to put food on his table or the thrift stores jacking up prices and if it does not sell it is trashed so no one gets it anyway.

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  2. I agree also. Here is the UK, we have 'charity shops' but they are really not so cheap for many things.

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    1. That's another good point I deleted a paragraph about. Thrift stores are expensive as hell, I don't really even shop them anymore. $7.00 for a used dress at our biggest chain goodwill is outrageous. The profits from thrifts benefit the needy rather than the prices of items themselves so it's a moot point. And there are plenty of resources that give free clothes/items to those in need. I like to donate directly to those sources (should do an article listing them) first rather than thrift stores.

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  3. Amen to all that has been said by you and in the comments! The stuff I look for is generally not the same as a needy person. Also, who's to say resellers aren't "needy?" Most of the folks I know certainly aren't getting rich off the backs of thrift stores (that in CA are quickly becoming like antique stores as quick internet searches make them feel more savvy when pricing). I'm beginning to feel like I can't afford to go thrifting anymore!

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    1. I certainly feel the same way about the prices. I do flea markets/yard sales over thrifting. I find cheaper items at antique malls all the time. And I'm poor as hell right now I qualify as the needy while I clearance my stuff out ;)

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    1. Thanks for starting an awesome topic ;)

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  5. If you have not mislead your buyer about what you are offering, then what is wrong about what you are doing? Tell anyone else to go lay down and get over themselves! My way of looking at business is that if one has been honest and the buyer has agreed to the terms, then a deal is FAIR. What is there to complain about?

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    1. At one point I was going to buy a vintage clothing store. A disgruntled (stealing) ex-employee once wrote a messed up yelp review about how the place is a "rip off" because they get clothes for "next to nothing" and jack-up the prices. Well of course they do, how much pocket change do you think the Walmarts and Targets of the world are charging per item to mark it up 300% or more? The value of the item isn't the sum of it's parts, the worth is assigned by the consumer. I've gladly paid more than literal value (a canvas/piece of paper) to support artists I like.

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  6. As long as you're paying the price the shop is asking then what's the problem with what you do with it afterwards? My issue is with dealers who try to haggle the price down in a charity shop, that's depriving a person in need. xxx

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    1. Yeah the haggling I don't do anymore, though I used to do so to be honest. You're usually getting a good deal it's not worth haggling over the dollars and cents.

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  7. I don't totally agree, but I do see the point. I thrift at a lot of places where the proceeds go to charity, as well as flea markets, garage sales, etc., because it is less wasteful and it helps the seller. I especially support Goodwill for all the good they do for special needs adults there, even though honestly it's not as cheap as other places I could easily go to. But I never shop at places that are out reaches... like family sharing centers. I feel like those have a specific purpose and I'm not it.

    As far as reselling goes... I don't think a reseller should shop at outreaches either, but general second hand and proceeds to to charity type places are fair game! And selling at a profit is fair game as well, since the buyer isn't just paying a shop owner that ordered bulk items, they're paying a curator.

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    1. I haven't even heard of family sharing centers so that seems to be something I naturally avoid. I wouldn't infringe on places that are for the truly needy and wouldn't encourage it. But thrift stores benefit people with their profits and like you said, aren't even inexpensive at all anymore.

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    2. After googling it, yep, definitely wouldn't use a resource like that. I'm all about flea markets, estate sales and yard sales and a little bit of thrift stores when things are actually inexpensive in them when I actually am hunting.

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  8. In my area, most of the good thrift stores are in the more affluent suburbs, not the inner city where most of the needy live. I rarely see anyone who appears to be needy at one of the thrifts. If the middle class stopped shopping at the thrifts, they would close, thereby hurting the people who are helped by the charities that run the thrifts.

    I'm not a reseller, but I've noticed the prices at most thrifts have increased a lot in recent years. In some ways, this benefits me since I buy for my own consumption. In past years, the good stuff would be snapped up by the resellers, but now that it's pricier and not profitable for the resellers, I have a better chance. A $20 vintage item would be passed over by a reseller, but it's still a lot cheaper than I would have to pay at an antique store or ebay.

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    1. All good points, Marsha. As I move away from reselling, vintage items for myself at $20 will be an awesome deal, too :)

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  9. Some people if they weren't reselling would also be "truly needy". Some people have turned to reselling after losing a job or to supplement an income that isn't meeting their needs. Look at the unemployment rates. I wish some of the needy people I see at thrift stores knew about reselling so they could elevate their incomes. And maybe some do. Noone truly knows what another person is doing with what they buy. Wouldn't it be cool if the homeless and very poor could use reselling to help themselves.

    I choose to resell because I'm tired of working a conventional job and I love what I do now.

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    1. That's a good way to look at it, too. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

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    2. Can you actually make enough reselling to support yourself on? Just curious because I am a single woman and I would love to get out of my job but can not see how you can make enough to support yourself with.

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  10. Most average people who are just buying clothes at the thrifts to clothe themselves aren't going to want the crazy acid yellow psychedelic 60s mini dress that I will buy to resell. They wouldn't be caught dead in it. Likewise they probably don't want the bizarre knickknacks from the 50s that I also buy to resell. But there are people out there who like that stuff and some of those people don't even go into thrift stores, so, through the magic of the internet, I can pair the people up with the stuff and make a living in the process. I do not feel guilty about this. I am paying my bills this way, and getting by. And, as I believe Vix said, as long as I pay what the thrift shop is asking for the item, it's nobody's business if I myself wear it, or cut it up, or give it to someone, or resell it. All of which I do.

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    1. Very beautifully stated Tilda. I want an acid yellow psychedelic 60s mini dress to wear, dammit. I especially feel no guilt shipping at thrifts because I am legitimately poor at the moment ;)

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  11. I have never considers thrift stores for the truly needy, only the proceeds. The truly needy would never buy half the crap I buy there (like a bottle to hold sea shells in or antique bottles that look pretty in my window sill or a mexican pottery mule who looks like he is sniffing my plants). I feel no shame or guilt. My money is good money that does go to the truly needy.

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    1. With the prices the way they are now they wouldn't help the truly needy, but provide slight discount from retail costs.

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  12. Totally agree with the previous comments. I think people don't consider all the work that goes into reselling. Cleaning items, the shooting, listing, packaging, etc., etc. And what about the stuff that sits and sits? It's not like resellers are falling into money. I also donate a lot to thrifts too.

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    1. Haha, we sure as hell are not. I'm currently picking through my stock and taking tons to the thrift store. I forgot that point, I donate all the time and especially try to find places that give stuff to the needy or smaller indie places.

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  13. The only thing that bugs me in the re-selling world is when other re-sellers get to the good stuff before I do. I think as long as you're not stealing/price changing, than your purchases (whether they are being re-sold or not) are serving a greater good. They're keeping items out of the landfill, benefiting the charities that the thrift store supports and put a little extra spending money in the re-seller's pocket (to possibly fund more trips to the thrift store). The only time I felt crappy about thrift shopping was when I was in a Salvation Army on an especially cold January day and the manager announced that each shopper could pick a free sweater. I was already in line with a sweater I intended to buy prior to the announcement and had to force the cashier to take the $3 for it.

    <3 Jackie

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    1. I don't care if the goodies are taken before I can get them...as long as I don't see them. Fair game, I'm there to snap up the good stuff first, too. But when I see someone get something I really wanted it's like "Damn, if only I'd gotten here sooner..."

      I'd have accepted a free sweater these days, I be poor :P haha

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  14. I totally agree re the service of finding unused things and uniting it with a person who will use it! That said, a ridiculous mark-up is greedy (although it might be supported by the market) but that is NOT what you're doing.

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    1. Hell, I WANT to do a ridiculous mark-up because I need the money! Right now all of my stuff is on deep clearance, lowest prices ever, because I desperately need to move all my current stock. I used to think a high mark-up was greedy. Now I know they're simply trying to make a decent living- hell, even $20k a year would be wonderful and some of us (like me) don't even make that. It takes hours to find, clean, repair, photograph, research, list, ship and/or move and re-move vintage. It's a lot of work and it's very hard to be paid any decent amount for your hours. I'm beyond poverty-level right now.

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    2. I would work a regular job and you would make more than reselling. I think a lot of people resell because they do not want to work a regular job. Not saying all- but most. I know a couple of people who would rather remain dirt poor and do one of these yard sales every once in a while for a few bucks rather than work for a steady income.

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  15. Greedy? Hardly! ... The only people that say it's greedy are in a MUCH higher income bracket than me and they would probably complain about how i currently support myself!

    I'm a single mom. Uneducated (at least on paper). Low income. Food stamps. Cash assistance. The works...

    Shopping at thrift stores was something I started because I couldn't afford anywhere else. Of course, like any other, I found something one day and thought "I could sell this for WAY more money". So I bought it, and I sold it... for WAY more money.

    You know what my next (okay, very close to next..) thought was?

    "I bet I could ACTUALLY start making enough money to support my family this way.."

    It's been a slow start for me as I'm kept quite busy, but I know what I'm doing when I'm in that thrift store and that's a lot more than i can say about knowing how to have a career.

    So let me propose this question to you:
    Am I greedy?

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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