Secondhand Stores Sparkle in Drab Retail Industry
I've always shopped second hand. Maybe because I've always liked the look of my grandmother's closet or I have an affinity for peculiar smells, but one of the best Christmas presents I received this year was a trip to the Goodwill. My sister couldn't quite spring for a mall visit so I eagerly suggested this alternative. And it seems that many people frequented their neighborhood thrift store this holiday season as secondhand store sales increased dramatically as other retail stores suffered.
On a Wednesday afternoon in late December, the average wait to sell clothing at Buffalo Exchange, a Manhattan consignment shop, was about 25 minutes. Beyond the front counter, where the consignors sought pocket cash and tax deductions, nearly a dozen shoppers squeezed themselves between overstuffed racks in the 450-square-foot space, seeking bargains amid used designer jeans and last season’s cashmere sweaters.
The new store’s crowds are indicative of both Buffalo Exchange’s continuing success — the privately held company says it has $50 million in annual revenue and is concluding its third consecutive year of sales growth — and also of the resale market’s overall performance. Secondhand shops are a bright spot in today’s downtrodden retail industry.
Sales are flourishing at secondhand shops as a new echelon of shoppers finds its way into resale stores. Of the store owners who responded to a recent survey from the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops (NARTs), 74 percent said that September and October sales increased over the prior year, by an average of 35 percent. Goodwill Industries, a nonprofit that operates 2,200 thrift stories, says that same-store revenue have increased by an average of 7 percent compared to last year. The Salvation Army, with 1,370 nonprofit secondhand shops nationwide, also reports significant gains.
This rise in Secondhand shopping may mean that 2009 fashion will be Recession Fashion, a bit thriftier than in past years. Some speculate this will yield a bolder, more audacious style.
Secondhand fashion is also highly sustainable, after all it is recycling. So if you want to save money, be fashionable in the New Year and be greener thrift stores are the place to do your shopping.