Popularizing Conservation Shopping


Have you heard that you can pop some serious tags with only $20 in your pocket?

The hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis aren’t the only one who have capitalized on the increasing popular interest of thrift-store (also known as conservation) shopping. Although I’m not a fan of the lyrics, I do appreciate the reference. They’re merely reporting what thousands of consumers already know about shopping resale versus retail: high-quality goods at lower prices.

According to the consumer research firm America’s Research Group, approximately 16% to 18% of Americans shop at thrift stores during the year, and 12% to 15% at consignment. Unlike the 11.4% who shop at factory outlet malls, resale shopping attracts consumers across the economic spectrum, as the quality of the product and acquiring a vintage item is often the driving force behind the purchases.

As reported by NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals, resale is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry and one of the fastest-growing segments of retail at 7% per year. Thanks to many initiatives across business and industry, conservation is a more prominent issue, and people are recognizing many areas of waste within our consumeristic lifestyles. It took several decades for our society to become obsessed with the “ease” of disposables, and now with growing awareness around the cost of this wastefulness, we are gradually becoming a society more focused on reusing and recycling.

When looking for new dining room furniture a few years ago, I attended an estate sale auction in Savage Mill. The room was filled with high-quality solid fine wood pieces, the like of which one would be hard pressed to find in any retail store today, selling at small fractions of what the owners originally paid decades earlier. The auctioneer stated that — based on the experience of all of their estate sales and the quantity of furniture available — that there is never a need to buy new furniture. One could purchase high-quality furniture in excellent condition at many consignment shops specializing in home goods. Additionally, many consignment shops specialize in refurbishing older pieces to “like new” condition.

Painted furniture has also become chic in recent years and is another way many resale shops refurbish home goods. And if you are so inclined, you can make a fun weekend project out of doing it yourself: search Pinterest under “painted refurbishing-furniture-ideas” for literally thousands of ideas; browse thrift stores for items to refurbish at give-away prices; and buy specialized paints (at your local home improvement store) to give your used item a creative new look.

And with resale “conservation” shopping, there’s not the same guilt associated with the previously wasteful frequent shopping habits to which we have grown accustomed. You can still change out your wardrobe or update your furnishings — but in a responsible way.

With the big consumer holiday season behind us, you may not be thinking of purchasing anything new for a while. But the next time you need to purchase something for your home or wardrobe, consider resale over retail — conserve those high quality items and give them a new home.


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