Why thrifting and reselling is ethical and not unethical?
I read an article in the North Texan Daily where the writer wrote that reselling is unethical because it causes the thrift store prices to rise. Therefore making it less affordable for the community that relies on these items.
The writer argues that thrifting has become trendy and no longer has a stigma or shame attached to it. The writer cites a 2010 Pennsylvania State University study which "showed that lower-income individuals more often purchased clothing, furniture, and household goods. Whereas higher-income individuals purchased trinkets and antiques and shopped less frequently." The writer concluded that low-income shoppers thrift as a "necessity" whereas higher-income shoppers thrift as a "commodity". Therefore making reselling unethical by purchasing low-priced items and reselling for higher profit.
The writer writes about the gentrification of the thrift industry as wealthier and middle-class people push out the poor by purchasing these thrift items and reselling them for higher profit. Thrift stores will cater to resellers and others willing to pay more for their items.
The writer goes on to write that thrifting is a good practice because it's recycling clothing instead of landing in landfills. It is good for the environment but at the same time argues that what is happening to the lower-income people shouldn't go "unnoticed" with the thrifting trends.
Finally, the writer writes that reselling is exploitive and that as a society we should do better.
In some respects, I agree with the writer but I don't agree that reselling is unethical, here is why. Thrift stores are like a treasure hunt, you never know what you will find. You know that old saying another man's junk is another man's treasure and it's true. The writer writes about recycling and reusing to save the environment but at the same time bashes the resellers for saving these items in the same breath.
Most thrift stores throw out about a 1/3 of goods and clothing that will not sell in their shop. An example: Goodwill will send items out to their outlet or Goodwill bins where they sell by the pound before as the last stop before going to landfills.
Secondly, the writer used Goodwill as an example that in 2010 and in 2020 there was a difference in their donation valuation guide. Goodwill will charge varying prices instead of a fixed price. It's true most thrift stores have varying prices on clothing and items but many of these thrift stores invest in their communities. Goodwill industries use the funds from the thrift stores to create jobs, and offer job training for the poor and disabled. Another example is a thrift store in my local area called Divine Providence they use the funds for the local church and for programs to help young mothers.
The writer doesn't include these facts in her analysis of resellers purchasing items at higher volumes. The money goes into the local community which helps the poor and the underserved.
The idea of gentrification of thrift shops is not a bad thing. It allows everyone from every walk of life to purchase items for resale and the opportunity to get out of poverty. Reselling is part of the economy which was the idea behind eBay in the 1990s when it started. The online giant is the place to purchase collectibles, luxury goods, antiques, and anything you can imagine that can be purchased. Now there are many platforms that cater to everyone such as high-end, like the online shop the real real, and the lower-end online shop like tread up.
Reselling is not exploitive it is part of a U.S. Capitalistic model for the local economy which reinvests into the local community. Reselling is not unethical.
Read my other articles on thrifting on this site by clicking on blog archive articles.
Article quotes are from the North Texan Daily writer Vanessa Delgado on August 5th, 2021.