I’m a passionate thrifter, secondhand style evangelist and conscious consumer. I believe in quality over quantity, thoughtful savings over fruitless spending and turning to pre-owned goods before making the decision to invest in new.
To “thrift” is to “thrive,” as the word’s Latin root is defined. Benjamin Franklin was a motivational speaker for the tenets of thrift: “A penny earned is a penny saved,” was his most famous economical maxim.
But thrifting is so much more than saving money. It’s also about connecting with your spirit, your values and your community at large.
Don’t think you have time to thrift? 85% of my wardrobe is secondhand and 50% of my furniture and decor accessories were purchased from a thrift store, Craig’s List or were previously owned by a friend. Oh … or dug out of the trash!
I set an extreme example to prove a point: That no matter income, social class or taste, that every American can take a step back and give their spending and purchasing habits what I like to call the “style, savings, sustainability and social responsibility analysis.”
4 S’s Analysis Question: Is the garment or item something you truly love, or just something that fits in “with the trends?”
Buying trends is all well and good, until you realize you’re making a decision based on what you think others will like you more to do … not what you will like yourself more to do.
Recognizing that style is your own definition, and not that of a global fashion magazine or a group of like-minded individuals is the most important muscle of self-development.
Because once you take ownership of how you look to the world, you realize your power of what you can create in the world that aligns with your higher purpose and personal – not “marketed” – happiness.
4 S’s Analysis Question: Did you purchase the garment or item from a mass chain or someone you personally met or have a relationship with through a friend?
The old Ma-and-Pa stores may harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to support small businesses online. Purchasing from vintage sellers online as listed in my ebook is a great way to start, or simply taking time to connect with the owner of a local boutique or designer of jewelry at a flea market offers an experience rooted in connection and compassion.
If the item or garment supports social good, even better. Buying a piece of jewelry made by a TK or a TK are examples of adding the value of substance
4 S’s Analysis Question: Could you have purchased a similar item for less, or a secondhand item which provides the same services and fulfills the same needs for less?
I do my best to be a conscious spender. I ask myself, “Do I need this, or do I want it?” Wants are good to have, but not necessarily “needing” to be fulfilled at this very moment.
Spreading out “want” purchases so that you can make better spending decisions will naturally increase your opportunity to save. When we decide not to buy a new pair of shoes, we can add that extra $50 to our savings account. Or, if we buy a dining room table off Craig’s List, we can feel better knowing we purchased a “want” by spending a few hundred dollars less than purchasing that item new would have cost.
Spending and saving money is a game. When you begin to strategically decide your moves so that you can “save,” you’ll always win the game – and have a whole lot more to spend when the buzzer rings!
4 S’s Analysis Question: Did you purchase the garment or item from a mass chain or “fast fashion” store?
It’s OK if you did – but next time you shop, you can consciously chose a local or secondhand source for the item you’re looking to purchase.
Much like buying from a local farmer’s market, you can purchase anything from a new outfit to a (gently used) microwave via sustainable shopping methods! Secondhand shopping sources include swap events, yard sales, digital marketplaces such as eBay, consignment chains, vintage or thrift stores, Craig’s List, FreeCycle and more.
Even purchasing from someone you know, such as oatmeal cookies from your neighbor or a new necklace from the local artist at a downtown boutique, are consciously consuming and practicing sustainable shopping.
4 S’s Analysis Question: Are you consciously giving back to your community, whether through volunteer efforts, recycling, community board membership or elsewise?
Not everyone can run for local office or organize trash pickups, but we can certainly think about how our thrift actions positively impact the community.
When we are stepping out to purchase from local sellers, we are having positive interactions and forming ties with those around us.
When we make a sustainable purchase, we are often buying from within the confines of our community, therefore contributing to a neighbor’s financial abundance and cycling currency into the local economy.
When we think about where we are investing our hard-earned dollar, we also think about how we can save it. And savings leads to happier, wealthier and healthier people. When we have savings, we don’t feel the need to work all the time. Therefore, we have time for ourselves and our families, which is essentially what creates happiness: connection to those we love.
And when we are happier, we are healthier. And when we are healthier, we can be present for our community and we can give back, be it via volunteer efforts or political stewardship.
Sammy Davis Vintage
Below is my favorite video on the art of thrifting at a local Goodwill in NYC! Watch and learn.
Purchase my ebook, The 100 Best Vintage Shops Online!
The only book to ever document the best vintage shops online in one place!
Featuring the 100 best stores as evaluated by my checklist of credentials for 2013.
Novice and seasoned secondhand shopping pros love The 100 Best Vintage Shops Online because it consolidates the best-of Etsy, eBay and independent sellers, plus special top-5 sellers for specific apparel categories like shoes, jewelry, handbags and more!