Does Thrifting Contribute to Gentrification? Part 2

Last week I shared the conversation my friend Hannah and I had about whether thrifting contributes to gentrification. I mentioned in the intro to that post that it seemed disingenuous to write about whether my thrift habit negatively affects those with limited resources without including the voices of the people in question.  Hannah grew up using thrift stores as an affordable means of clothing a large family looking to conserve resources, but I also wanted to include other voices.  Plus, I needed to educate myself more on the subject. Hence, Part Deux.

Since most of the low income people I know IRL are experiencing longterm homelessness and therefore get their clothes from clothing closets, not thrift stores, I went a-searching on the internets for self-described poor/working poor folks voicing their opinions on the subject.

Of the many blog posts I found that address this question – the vast majority slanted pro-thrifting-for-all – these two were the only ones I found where people self-identifying as poor, working class, or having experienced poverty weighed in in the comments.  The following are excerpted from the comments sections of Should Only Poor People Shop at Thrift Stores? and Are Thrift Stores Just for Poor People?

The first comment I found highlighted the exact phenomenon Hannah was worried about.  Living through a period of bad credit/poverty/homelessness, Christina noted that she and her husband

would go into thrift stores, and all of the good things were always gone, it was frustrating walking around with holes in your pants unable to find a pair (ANY pair that was age-appropriate) in your size.

But she also felt like it was okay in general for non-poor folks to thrift if they were thoughtful about it:

It opens up hangers for more clothing, however, it would be nice if people wouldn’t buy the “LAST” of certain items (brand names in each size, trendy things, item in a size group), and if they limited it to clothing, books, and knick-knacks [skip over furniture, shoes]. This way the under-privileged can have something to get, as well.

(This is another gold reason not to snatch up all of something even if it’s a staple you love and will eveeeeeentually, probably, use.)

Christina also had a great point about the importance of location: if thrift stores aren’t common in your area and it would be difficult or cost-prohibitive for someone with few resources to travel to affordable clothing stores, “just please donate, and maybe buy one item here and there… or give the cashier extra money and tell them it’s for the next person.”

Leslie Mays, on the other hand, felt differently:

Thrift store prices are EXACTLY the same as Wal-mart, and the stuff at Wal-mart hasn’t been used! Go ahead and shop at the thrift store. I’m going to shop at Wal-mart, ashamed of their reputation, but in need of their prices!

(Obviously pricing varies depending on your locale, but as far as my local Goodwills go, she’s spot on.)

Other commenters (both living in poverty and not) mentioned the stigma associated with buying used when you are of limited means and noted that in their communities they saw folks shopping at Walmart, Target, the dollar store, etc. to get something new rather than buying used.  It’s not a universal stigma – I see a lot of low-income immigrant families in my local Goodwill – but it’s definitely there.

To Hannah and Christina’s point about only the “ugly” clothing being left – I’m not sure when or where Christina’s period of poverty occurred, but I think if you live in a metro area with a franchised thrift store (e.g. Goodwill, Salvation Army), it’s less likely that their clothes will be “picked over” for good stuff simply due to sheer donation volume.  I attribute this to the explosion of fast fashion and the resulting scramble by upscale retailers to compete with shorter turnarounds and higher production rates – both of which may have significantly increased since Christina’s experience.

For example, if I’m at an Atlanta metro area Goodwill for an hour, at least 2 racks of new-to-the-floor clothes come out.  In that same time, I may find one quality piece that fits my closet, my size, and my style, but I will likely thriftstagram 20 more good quality pieces that don’t and that may still be there the next time I shop.  (To address the size scarcity portion of our initial conversation – I do often see/Instagram great plus-size finds, but admittedly, the volume is not as high as non-plus-size clothing.)

 

From another comment, Kay’s conversation with a Goodwill manager revealed that their business model actually relies on more than poor people shopping both to make money and to move product: “[the manager] mentioned that the thrift stores would go out of business if only the poor shopped there…and that they wouldn’t have any place to put the donations coming in everyday.”

This brings up a bigger question: are thrift stores meant to provide affordable clothing for people in poverty?  Or are they meant to address poverty through other means – either through making sales that funds outreach (soup kitchens, discount drug prescription programs) or that tackle the root of the problem by providing employment, job training, and other services designed to boost people out of poverty?

Smaller, local thrift stores may in fact exist primarily to provide low-cost clothing to those who need it.  Several independent thrift store volunteers or employees chimed in to say that they welcome people of all income levels and many have separate mechanisms for getting clothes to low income shoppers (vouchers, setting aside all new-with-tags items for “free” shopping, etc.), so ask your local store what their mission/approach is if you’re worried that you’re scooping up the good stuff.

Turning to large thrift franchises:

  • The Salvation Army explicitly raises money to fund other outreach and thus encourages shoppers of all income levels.
  • Goodwill’s mission is “To Put People to Work“; in addition to employing people at their stores, their profits fund job training and placement, entrepreneurial support, etc.  They specifically state that both donations and purchases help accomplish this mission (more below).
  • America’s Thrift exists to support several faith-oriented ministries (which explains why they play really heinous Christian pop music while you shop), particularly drug/alcohol recovery programs. They market themselves not so much to families squeaking by but to middle class folks looking for funky Halloween costumes or “thrifty treasures” like luxury handbags and antique Porsche car models.  Additionally, they highlight the fact that putting 8,000 new items on the floor every day means there’s ample opportunity for everyone to get first crack at new finds.
  • Value Village/Savers is for-profit and owned by Walmart, so although it’s still an environmental good to buy used by shopping there, you don’t have the “I’m supporting a social service” excuse to shop.  On the other hand, I’ve heard prices are considerably higher (is this true, VV shoppers?) – so many folks on a tight budget may be priced out of their stores by design.
  • Junior League, Assistance League, etc. also operate in order to raise funds for their missions.  Here’s a wrinkle, though – Assistance League of Atlanta in particular mentions both “helping those at risk” and “stretching your dollars,” plus their new merchandise is only stocked once a week, making it harder for folks on time-limited schedules (and easier for resellers) to get the goods.  Consider shopping later in the week to avoid taking great finds that others haven’t had a chance to peruse.  (Also visit their home page and wait for the fourth slide…it’s worth it, I promise!)

In the Sally/Goodwill/America’s Thrift model, as commenter “cares” observed, sales “usually fund programs with the money you spend… That shirt wasn’t meant to be bought by a poor person, it was just meant to be bought.”

This becomes more obvious when you look at my regional Goodwill’s ad campaigns – they want middle/upper class people like me to donate, sure, but they also want us to shop: check out the copy on the “shop” tab on the Goodwill of North Georgia website, and the image:

Thrift-cart-image

This might be the crux of Hannah’s original question.  At least for Goodwill of North Georgia (mileage may vary for your regional Goodwill – please share below!), their marketing and expansion over the last decade points to a very intentional shift towards getting people with means to shop there and fund their mission. And their prices have definitely risen with their growth.

The original intent of Goodwill way back in 1902 was primarily to provide employment as a means out of poverty, but a secondary aim was to provide affordable clothing either to those employed at Goodwill or others in need. Founder Rev. Edward Helms described Goodwill Industries as “a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

That same page on the national Goodwill site admits that “times have changed” and it seems that they, too, have shifted away from providing affordable clothes to people of limited means in order to raise as much money as possible for job training and placement.

similarly, the Salvation Army thrift store started out as a way to provide employment opportunities and affordable household goods for those in need, but now markets mostly to the people with enough resources to donate and then shop to score a deal or an antique find.

Giving someone the leverage they need to become gainfully employed so they no longer have to rely on thrift stores is obviously a better long term strategy, for lots of reasons, than merely providing clothing assistance.  But that level of financial stability doesn’t happen over night; and people often continue to need inexpensive shopping options so they can spend money on other necessities.

 

So where has that shopping opportunity that Hannah, Christina, and other resource-tight families relied on gone? (Gentrificaaaaaation….)  The latest Goodwill to open up near me is about a mile from a mall with a Marshall’s and a Burlington Coat Factory, and two miles from a Walmart – both easily accessible by foot or bus.  But that’s not necessarily the case in other neighborhoods.

And Walmart prices aren’t always as cheap as the $1 or $2 you hear about from some smaller thrift stores, meaning the latter is still the best bet for affordable clothes.  (Let us note in passing that the Walmart in question is a recent build that displaced a whole shopping center including the largest, cheapest thrift store around.  The thrift store moved up the road, closer to a lower-income community, but is now in a location harder to access on foot.)

So in some important sense thrift stores are contributing to gentrification, and they are calculating at least in part on middle class people like me shopping there (and not batting an eye when shirt prices go from $5 to $7) to support their model.

 

Having digested all of this, I think I come down at a combination of Christina’s comments and Kay’s.  If a thrift store is one of the only affordable (and accessible) options for low-price clothing in a given community, I’m going to stay away from it or shop rarely, carefully, and minimally, while donating or paying for someone else’s purchase.  If a thrift store is a large franchise geared toward fundraising for programs I want to support and I can determine it hasn’t displaced all other affordable shopping opportunities, I’m gonna patronize the heck out of it.

Determining which is which is going to require asking some questions of the store managers/owners as to their mission and evaluating the neighborhood for other low-priced options.  But a little elbow grease is worth it to me to be informed about how my actions are affecting people who don’t enjoy my economic privilege.

This first draft of an approach is not perfect (feel free to point out any gaping holes you see in the comments below!) and it will probably curtail my spontaneous thrift drivebys (which will make my spouse happy).  I also realize this approach works really conveniently for me since I’ve basically described shopping at Goodwill of North Georgia, which has a large network of stores and has been very good to me in terms of finds.

It’s a start, though.

 

What do y’all think after reading a little more about the observations of additional people in need of low-cost clothes and the intent behind different thrift stores?  Scroll down to comment.  And again, if you currently identify as poor or in the past have lived in poverty, please share your insights – even if you think I’m a neurotic middle class privileged person way overestimating her economic leve rage or ethical influence!

 

 

20 thoughts on “Does Thrifting Contribute to Gentrification? Part 2

  1. I’m a little scared to comment because I am speaking from a more privileged perspective than some. Here are my thoughts fwiw.

    For me personally, I primarily started thrifting for budget, but I’ve come to think of it as a way to recycle. By thrifting, I’m trying to reuse things that are unwanted, sometimes also repairing those pieces of clothing to make them wearable again. As a side economic benefit, I would like to send fewer dollars to fast fashion companies, as well as factories that have abusive working conditions.

    I see rich people and poor people thrifting. The poor certainly have more at stake in the outcome. In general, though, I think the difference between people who thrift and people who don’t is tied to a larger number of factors both economic and personal, such as outlook, personality, and free time (which definitely is a function of economic privilege).

    Thrifters are:

    1. People who don’t mind wearing used clothing (outlook), which is a distinct minority,
    2. Of the privileged: people who don’t need the latest thing but enjoy classic or funky looks,
    3. People who have the time and patience (personality) to look through hundreds of items and maybe find one thing,
    4. People who are creative enough to imagine how to rehabilitate or re-combine an item (personality and time),
    5. People who are conscious of the environment and working conditions (also functions of outlook).

    I think my point here is that it’s the rare American, rich or poor, who is a thrifter. And while I love to think of the thrift store as a place where those with less privilege can shop, my experience is that during lean times you often don’t have the time or energy to put into thrifting because of long hours on your feet. On some level, thrifting requires privilege at least in terms of having time and physical / emotional energy.

    1. I love your analysis here and I’m glad you weren’t afraid to comment! I agree that thrifters are the exception in our society, but it is becoming more commonplace (if incrementally) so I think it bears thinking about.

      Yes thrifting requires time, lack of stigma around used items, patience, etc. – but there are a lot of folks in poverty (like the hypothetical people in the first post) who have to rely on those resources/skills because they can’t survive otherwise. So economic straits may end up trumping dislike of used clothes, lack of time, searching through racks, etc.

      In my neighborhood I see a lot of immigrant families loading up on clothes & household items in a way that suggests this is an inexpensive way for them to assemble whole wardrobes in one go, not to find *just* the right one or two great pieces. In a way, that circles back to the conclusion of the last post – if someone in real need is buying 20 pieces and I (who can afford to shop elsewhere) am only buying the 1 or 2 I love, and there is SO MUCH clothing coming through these stores… there may be enough to go around.

      Thanks again for sharing!

      1. I agree. Absolutely economic straits trump time, stigma, etc.

        My bias is that I think thrifting does so much good and so little harm. So from this perspective, saying ‘don’t thrift’ or ‘don’t buy certain sizes’ just discourages people from doing something good (buying second-hand clothes where the money goes to a charity, eliminating waste in their lives, and making lower demand for fast fashion and the cruel labor practices around that). From that vantage point, I say, YES thrift, and then give generously (including the money you’re saving) to groups that provide bikes, cars, health care, housing, clothing, meals, education, or just straight up cash to those in tough situations.

        I’d be open to a rebuttal on this for sure.

        1. #longestcommentever

          I think we’re on the same side here that thrifting is a good – and what you outline is pretty much how I try to live.

          Because of fast fashion, thrift store business models, etc. I don’t really think we’re anywhere near people with economic privilege snapping up all the great clothes – but Hannah and Christina’s experiences suggested otherwise so I wanted to really explore all the angles therein.

          I wasn’t really interested in proclaiming, as so many blog posts I found did, who should or shouldn’t thrift. Rather I wanted to explore whether there’s a link between thrifting and gentrification and make the argument that it behooves people with purchasing power to be informed about the context in which they (I) thrift and the potential impact. (Also if I feel uncomfortable about examining the effects of something I enjoy – which is why it’s taken me months to get around to writing this! – it’s usually a good sign that I need to learn more and possibly change my behavior.)

          So no defense of thrifting just ’cause I love it OR throwing the baby out with the bathwater just because there’s privilege involved – but some small changes that may (I hope) have a positive impact.

          (Today on my IG account, for example, you can see a cardigan that could have worked on me and that I liked – but that I left behind because it was an XL, new with tags, and people with less money/who shop in the plus-sized section have shared that it’s hard for them to find clothes. On the other hand, an XL Liz Claiborne sweater in like-new condition that I could wear with some slouch was still on the rack almost a month after I first spotted it, so into my closet it went. Its twin in different colors had been snatched up so I assume someone bought it for whom it was a great find but who didn’t like the one I got.)

  2. One more thought —

    I think the act of thrifting brings about awareness that can create life change. From my standpoint, introducing more people to it is a positive development, perhaps especially the privileged because they/we contribute so much more to waste.

    Personally, being introduced to thrifting completely changed my outlook on consumption over the course of a couple of years. Seeing racks and racks of unused items woke me up to how much of what I buy just ends up not getting used. Because of thrifting, I am a better consumer: I buy less, I can spot and steer clear of bad quality items that will tear / break quickly, and I only buy things I will *really* use — something I learned to discern while thrifting. I am also a more frequent donater — why have something nice sitting around my kitchen when someone else could be enjoying it? I’ve gotten better at a lot of adult skills, like delaying gratification to find exactly what I want instead of purchasing something on impulse. I’ve discovered the joy of rehabilitating an item that most people would throw away.

    If more Americans of *any* economic class thrifted, I see people waking up to these same realities. People might come into contact with the waste at a thrift store and think, “How much do I contribute to this?” People might think twice about buying brand-new gifts for others that aren’t going to be enjoyed. A lot less people might be seduced by the charms of ‘the latest thing’ and save their money for items that are built to last.

    1. I want to repost this and shout YES!!!! because I think you paint such a compelling portrait of how thrifting can change someone’s mindset – and how desperately our culture needs that shift! The passion behind this comment and your experience is why I (rather tongue-in-cheekily) refer to myself as a “thriftvangelist” – once you discover this new way of shopping it’s a paradigm shift that touches so many other things and you want to share it with everyone. Every thing you mentioned had me nodding “yes!”

      Uh okay so can I reuse this (with credit of course) to talk about all the great stuff thrifting teaches us?? :)

        1. We were a gift culture before we were a money culture, and thoughtful gift giving is a basis of community. So I’d like to put the emphasis on thoughtful, useful or life-enhancing gifts. They need not be material, but one of the most exquisite gifts anyone ever gave me was a gooseberry tart. And decades later I treasure the pearl a friend gave me… she is with me when I wear it. So I am in agreement about not giving gifts that add to waste.

          If we put thought back into gifts, we can reconnect to the act of giving, not the act of “having to get them something.” Gift cards are a shameful , dehumanized and callous substitute for wholehearted giving.

      1. I am grateful to Ginna for writing this so eloquently, and to you for your blog!

        I buy at thrifts to not support the fast, cheap fashion culture, and I donate to provide someone else with a good item. (I also buy retail, but buy little.)

        The only thing I don’t like is seeing the item I donated to a charity store bought by a vintage clothing store picker, and then marked up 600%-800%, for sale in his or her own boutique. Happened more than once and yes I am sure.

  3. For years I’ve donated items of all types to organizations that I believed to be doing good for a community or church. Then I realized if everyone donated and no one bought, then what good is it? We are a middle income family, but on a budget and putting kids through college. I enjoy clothes and live in a climate that changes. I am not one of those 33 items people, I some days wish I was. I like to shop at favorite thrift shops, some provide meals to school kids and save particular animals. Other shops benefit missionaries or hospice groups. One of the more desirable aspects is they are tax free. I personally seek to pay as little tax as possible. We already pay quite a bit. The places I frequent (not Goodwill or Salvation Army) have mountains of items waiting to be put on the floor always! I personally can’t believe how much is discarded in America. I feel that I dress better with thrift clothes than I could afford new. I liken it to a treasure hunt. I am shocked that upscale (ones that have piano players) shops donate brand new designer shoes to one of the stores I frequent. I never resell, but when tired of an item I donate to a different store than where I purchased the item. Last weekend I had to attend a formal award ceremony with only 48 hours to prepare. Fortunately I had a thrifted ball gown, dress sandals and beaded bag to wear, totaling $17. All beautiful and will hopefully be used again in the future. I’ve bought books, jewelry, art, kitchenware, holiday decorations etc. I feel great benefiting these organizations. With regards to taking from the poor, I don’t have any remorse. I also help out at our church’s homeless ministry clothing closet. We hand out things like puma shoes, lucky brand jeans etc. Most of the people who ask for free clothes have plenty already. What they need are jobs and housing for the most part.

  4. Lana, I love the ball gown story! Had you already bought the gown for a previous occasion or just because it was beautiful, or did you go out and find it in those 48 hours?
    I’m glad there’s a place in your community that gives out free clothes. You also make a good pint that local, independent shops often have excess or may exist to benefit an entirely different cause (animal shelters, missionaries, etc.).
    Re: people asking for free clothes already having enough, I can imagine depending on the location and situation there are people who still struggle with this (e.g. growing kids) but I would imagine that fast, cheap fashion has made it easier in general to acquire enough clothes to outfit oneself without spending a ton. Good point!

    Thanks for commenting.

    1. In answer to your question about the ball gown, I had bought it some months ago. I have a couple of grown children that are close to marriage time and thought I might need these. It always seems when you’re looking for something great and at a reasonable price point it turns into an exhausting hunt.

      I usually take cost per use into mind and an expensive dress to be worn once is regrettable in my mind and budget.

      We live in a unique area with dozens of thrift shops. My favorite has a mountain of bags waiting to be put on clothing racks. It is really shocking to have such waste and castoffs.

      If that particular store doesn’t sell their items in a certain length of time, they give it to another organization to benefit another group of people.

      Yes, some stores I buy from and donate to give money to after school programs, women’s shelters, lunch money for kids, save the wolves, save dogs, etc… It’s wonderful to see the amounts donated on a quarterly basis.

      As I get older, I realize that instead of spending $40 on a top, I can buy a beautiful item for between .25 and $4 and wear it til I don’t want it any more and then donate it again. Love it!

      Plus, I can have a roomier budget to give money to help others more readily.. To me, it’s all about having an open hand.

      1. Lana, you are so right about the exhausting hunt when you really need an item – my kid is a toddler so I’m a ways away from needing a dress for such an event, but I loved hearing about yours!
        We try to live more reasonably so we have more $$ to give, too – and thrifting has definitely been a big part of that for me!

  5. I seem to not be able to stop thinking and commenting about this. I think we should be careful about the notion that “people of means” should either eschew thrifts or somehow handicap their shopping (e.g., shop at end of week in thrifts that restock at beginning of week.) If thrifts were cleaned out, I’d agree, but the ones where I live (Sally Ann, VV, Renaissance) are stuffed with items in good to new condition- except winter boots.

    A person who has an average or better income may still have great demands on that income, such as a family member suddenly laid off. You just never know what people who look like they’re doing OK are facing.

    1. Duchesse, glad it has stuck with you! Now you know why I took so long to write this and made it two posts!
      I agree that the “people with means” part of this should be self-identified; although I’m middle class enough to have had parents to fall back on right after college and to choose a stipended year+ of service instead of going straight to work, I was making peanuts and thrifting allowed me to stay clothed and to live within my meager means. I also agree that the proliferation of thrift stores and clothing excess means gentrification is not nearly as much of a concern as it used to be, but it’s worth thinking about context. If I found a designer dress in the thrift store in my grandma’s 2000 person home town where you have to drive 45 minutes to get to Walmart, previously I would have thought the thrift gods were smiling on me as Hannah put it. After this conversation I’d think a little differently and probably choose to leave it there (ah! perish the thought!) knowing I have literally a dozen great stores fed by a metro economy within driving (or even walking) distance.
      Love your thoughts on gifts – some of the gifts I’ve given that were the most well received were both immaterial and personalized – honoring someone with a donation to a cause they care about or a heartfelt note and some artwork from my daughter.
      Thanks so much for commenting!

  6. I love the discussion here — so fascinating! And I’m finding myself nodding along to everything that’s been said, especially about the shifts in mindset that thrifting can bring about — buying less, buying more carefully, being more aware of quality and of what I will actually use, letting go of what I’m not using more easily.

    Personally I thrift mostly for environmental reasons/to promote reuse. (Well, that describes the portion of my reasons that are moral/ethical anyway — I also thrift/shop secondhand because that’s how I find what I like!) So I’m ok with purchasing from both nonprofit and for-profit sellers (whether that’s Value Village, ThredUp, or Ebay/Etsy sellers). In a way the fact that secondhand selling is a viable for-profit business model seems like good news to me — it means there is enough demand to sustain it.

    It also struck me that by thrifting to promote reuse I’m essentially trying to break the stigma against secondhand (although I should add that I’m aiming at the attitudes of people in my own socioeconomic group — not presuming to tell economically disadvantaged folks how/where they should shop). And, to some degree my ability to question that stigma actually depends on my more privileged socioeconomic position. So that adds another level of complexity — that privileged status can both be an agent of positive change and a contributor to gentrification.

    I think it’s interesting that Goodwill (and some of the other organizations that run thrift stores that you noted) have moved away to some degree from the mission of providing inexpensive goods to the poor. (Not that this is no longer part of their mission but it’s not as central, and their business model also seems to depend on attracting customers of greater economic means.) I wonder if this partly reflects the fact that clothing and some other consumer goods are much cheaper, as a proportion of household incomes, than they used to be — like the commenter you quoted said, Walmart is just as cheap as Goodwill and the clothing there is new. (Also goes to Lana’s comment above that what people really need help with are things that have become MORE expensive in relation to household incomes. Housing, transportation, childcare, health care.)

    Thank you for sparking such a thought-provoking discussion!

    1. Sarah, you are very welcome – and thanks for adding to the conversation!
      You hit on something I saw on several comments on the posts I mentioned – teachers or social workers working in less wealthy areas and wearing mostly thrifted clothes noted that it seemed to decrease stigma when they’d tell their students/clients they bought secondhand. You’re right- privilege comes not just the responsibility to think about our habits but also with power to positively influence things!
      Thinking about how much work and resources used to go into making clothes (e.g. circa 1902 when Goodwill started up) compared to now, and cost of living for things we didn’t used to pay for (single family dwellings, childcare outside the home, etc.) I think you’re spot on. This has shifted even in the last 20-30 years which would explain the shift in business model in approximately the same period…

  7. So many fascinating points to this conversation, I appreciate it so much as it is generating a lot of thought for me. I currently work and go to grad school full time and don’t have as much time to thrift. However the last time I went to a retail store/sale it took a huge amount of time and was a lot less fun I thought. [and I found nothing] But perhaps my retail experience is not typical.

    I knew that Savers was for profit, although not that they were owned by Walmart, but I was confused by the reference to Value Village as the same corporation.
    Around here we have Arc’s Value Village. Their website says they are nonprofit and that they fund the Arc whose mission is: The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, actively supporting them and their families in a lifetime of full inclusion and participation in their communities.

    Perhaps it’s a different entity? Does anyone know?

    1. Mame, thanks for sharing! I agree that retail shopping can be just as (or more so) stressful as thrifting – particularly for me because of the loud music, lurking sales people, and pressure to buy.
      Re: VV, depending on your location it sounds like the Arc might have borrowed the name? VV is how Savers is known in the Pacific NW and Canada, and they are both owned by Walmart/Walmart Canada and are for-profit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savers). If anyone knows differently or can shed light on the Arc issue, please enlighten us!

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