Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thrifty Business

When I was in high school, I spent whole weekends at thrift stores. Partly because hostessing didn't pay that well, and partly because to find the comfiest, best worn-in mens' cut jeans, you needed ones that had actually been worn in by actual men. (Yes, the more holes the better. Remind me to tell you about the time I got sent to the principal's office because my knees were distracting the other pupils.)

Once I even found the most perfect pair of knee-high western-inspired boots (that I still have, had to get them re-soled and everything).

Anyway, I was interested to see a story in the NYT yesterday about the re-emergence of thrift stores. Apparently the industry is growing at a rate of 5 percent a year.

Of course, the story ties thrifts' popularity to the economy. There's no doubt that thrift stores and consignment shops are a bargain, but I wonder if the green movement plays any part in the industry's growth. People trying to live low-impact or no-impact don't buy anything new.

Coincidentally, yesterday I talked to Nikki Douglas, the owner of Hi-Octane, new vintage store in Cooper-Young. Her store sounds really cool — you can read about it here — and she talked about both the affordability and the environmentally friendly aspect of shopping there, not to mention the cool factor.

"When you buy vintage," she said, "you're buying recycling. You're keeping clothes in the chain and keeping them out of the dumpster."

And there are some things — like knee-high wester-inspired boots or whatever the current equivalent is — that are just too cool to go in the dumpster.