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National Thrift Shop Day, celebrated on August 17, is all about supporting local thrift shops and raising awareness for charitable organizations. Thrift shops aim to help those most vulnerable in communities and give back to the needy. Known by a myriad of other names, thrift shops are also referred to as consignment stores, second-hand stores, resale shops, and hospice shops. Volunteers willing to help out usually work at the shops, often sorting through donated items people drop off. These used pieces are then sold to the public, providing those in need a convenient service at an affordable price!
History of National Thrift Shop Day
Before thrift shopping became common, people usually liked to repurpose their clothes. During the eighteenth century, many new ways of using old items were created. If someone’s clothing became worn, they’d give it to a younger sibling as a hand-me-down and made into clothes for them. Even after the siblings tired of this, the material would be recycled as furniture stuffing. People also often sold their items if they needed the money, but the thrift shop concept had not yet been created.
By the late nineteenth century, the United States experienced a massive cultural shift. The Industrial Revolution increased the production of clothes and goods, while the pursuit of the American dream led to heightened immigration. Many moved to urban areas, causing the process of buying new clothes and disposing of old ones to quicken. Pawnshops and scrap yards arose to provide for this need, but there was an unfavorable opinion surrounding clothes that were once owned by a stranger, as it indicated a lower social status.
Christian ministries needed funding for their outreach programs, and religious affiliation groups such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill changed the narrative. In 1897, the Salvation Army launched the “salvage brigade.” Residents would go around the neighborhood asking for used clothes. In return, they’d receive food and lodging. Then, In Boston 1902, a Methodist minister created Goodwill that hired poor and disabled people to collect goods and make necessary repairs to them. These shops provided immigrants with a place to find clothes, assimilating Christian values with social service activities.
Thrift shops reflected the department stores of the time in the 1920s. Initial impressions began to change after thrift shops stopped being known as “junk shops.” By 1935, there were nearly 100 Goodwill stores nationwide and they were useful during hard times the nation faced. The Great Depression and World War II made thrift shops more viable as a more affordable option to full-priced stores. People warmed up to the idea of thrift shops as a way to find vintage items and niche goods, and ever since, the thrift shop has steadily shed its negative image.
National Thrift Shop Day FAQs
What are the best days for thrifting?
While there’s no “perfect” day to shop second-hand stores, many regulars swear by shopping early on Monday and Tuesday. Homeowners tend to drop off garage sale leftovers on Sunday nights!
What do they call thrift shops in England?
In England, thrift shops are called charity shops.
Can I thrift online?
Thrift shops are moving online, but it’s still on a case by case basis.
How To Celebrate National Thrift Shop Day
Donate something special
It’s great to donate old items we’ve gotten tired of or items that are no longer needed, so consider donating something really special to a local thrift shop. Think of how amazing someone else could feel finding something of high quality at a discounted price? The real meaning of this day is to help out others.
Go treasure hunting
Visit a local thrift shop and go adventuring for cool finds. Keep an open mind while looking around and pick out some interesting finds. Try a daring clothing option or buy a different home decor item that can give your space a new identity. It feels great to develop a style for a good cause!
Volunteer at a thrift shop
get involved by signing up for a thrift program. In addition to retail services, there’s instruction, mentoring, tutoring, fundraising, production, and donation work. Find what works for you and offer a hand to the community.
5 Interesting Facts About Thrifting
Timing is everything
The best time to go thrifting are earlier in the week after people have made their weekend donations.
Thrift comes from the old Norse word “prift” which means “prosperity.”
What a waste
The average American throws away 21 pounds of clothes per year.
Many thrift shoppers are appreciative that they don’t have to worry about salespeople trying to sell them things at thrift shops.
Rapper Macklemore's 2012 song "Thrift Shop" reached number 1 on the Billboard charts.
Why We Love National Thrift Shop Day
It’s a treasure hunt!
One of the best things about thrift shopping is the surprises waiting in stores. Find preloved items that are probably more difficult to find elsewhere, such as classic board games, antique art, and designer fashion. Half the fun is discovering hidden treasures you never knew you wanted!
Thrifting is good for the planet
Thrifting reduces pollution and waste because it’s recycling. Instead of buying new things, throwing out the old, and repeating the cycle, a better model is created when items are put back into circulation for others to make good use of them. It’s a day to be conscious about your habits that you can continue throughout the year.
It helps the community
Thrift shops are often part of charitable organizations that help improve the community. Not only do shoppers find great deals, those volunteering also receive work experience, and the funds strengthen other programs like employment, housing, and security.
National Thrift Shop Day dates