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cinematicdiversions's Journal
cinematicdiversions's Journal
May 1, 2021

The Complicated Reality of Thrift Store 'Gentrification'

Once again young rich and often white people steal from the poor by going into thier areas and taking all their nice things.


“When you yuppie scalpers fill up your shopping carts you fuck over the lower class, designer students, and both,” TikTok user @pheusthefetus says in a video with over 90,000 views checking out a local “gentrified thrift store,” where he points to two pairs of sneakers priced $69.99 and $79.99, not much lower than what he finds later at a local store for brand new. Someone writes “depop sellers 🤝 landlords,” in the comments, referring to the London-based resale app that brands itself as “peer-to-peer shopping.” “This is fcking gentrification,” reads the caption of another TikTok with over 290,000 complaining about a Depop seller advertising a $50 vest they “probably thrifted for two dollars,” among other wares.

Shopping secondhand in an era of fast fashion might seem like an ethical no-brainer, but enthusiastic thrifters and TikTok influencers often debate the ethics of what many have called “thrift store gentrification.” Thrift store gentrification describes the phenomenon of affluent shoppers who voluntarily buy merchandise from second-hand clothing stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. When those same shoppers resell that merchandise on Depop or Poshmark at significantly higher prices, the prices at thrift stores then rise to meet the demand, or so popular TikTok videos claim. A store then becomes “gentrified” in the same way a neighborhood might, pushing out low-income buyers to make way for those with a surplus of cash. The discourse around this gentrification also broaches the topic of trendy or particularly good merchandise being bought up by such resellers, thereby denying the low-income communities stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army serve access to this merchandise. The resellers accused of contributing to thrift store gentrification are often called out for mislabeling thrifted children’s clothing as “vintage” to drive seller traffic, Vox reported.

In college student newspapers across the country, young essayists and reporters have tackled the knotty issue of thrift store gentrification in dozens of similar articles. “Resellers surging thrift stores for cool, trendy finds and buying in bulk are ultimately taking away from low-income communities in bulk,” writes Vanessa Delgado for the North Texas Daily. “Thrifting is not wrong but profiting off something that people need in order to maintain their standard of living is.” The debacle of where to buy clothes then is best summed up by a TikTok video from the user @curlie_fries, who rattles off her options in a breathless monologue. “What I’ve learned on TikTok is that I can’t shop at thrift stores because I contribute to the gentrification of thrift store prices,” she says. “But I also shouldn’t shop at fast places like Forever 21 because they use child labor sweat shops.” She can’t afford high fashion either, and can’t shop from Amazon because of Jeff Bezos, so what’s a girl to do?

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