by Briana Butera, Yana Kane, Opinions Writers
graphic by Julie Wang
If you had asked me what I thought about thrifting a year ago, I wouldn’t have known what to tell you. However, over the past few months, I have visited thrift shops in and around Boston and experienced what the world of thrift shops has to offer. In the last year, especially among teens, second-hand clothing has experienced a revival. Some may attribute such a comeback to our generation’s increased awareness of fast fashion’s effects on our planet. Trends on social media have helped as well; on TikTok, tags such as #ThriftHaul and #ThriftTok, have racked up over 800 million views. While fast fashion has dumped more clothing into landfills, thrifting has given these clothes a second chance.
The Garment District is a well-known store located in Cambridge, about 25 minutes from Newton. The store has an ‘80s theme with bright pink walls and tiled floors: perfect for taking quirky photos with friends. Aside from the interior design, the clothing selection isn’t great. The entire first floor is dedicated to costumes and trinkets that require a particular taste, while the second floor has racks of clothing with a narrow selection of styles available.
There is a space full of shoes, but most were extremely worn down, just like the rest of the clothing in the store. The jewelry selection was great, but there were few accessories other than that. I found it difficult to navigate through the store due to the clothing scattered all over the place. The Garment District definitely needs to work on reorganizing its items.
After reading online reviews and hearing the complaints of my friends, I realized that my experience with the Garment District isn’t unique. I made the mistake of trying to find trendy clothes at the Garment District, but I have now realized the shop is better suited for people looking for retro items and novelties.
Plato’s Closet is a chain consignment store, but unique because you can make some money by selling your clothes. Just a 10-minute drive from Newton Centre, Plato’s Closet in Waltham is another place to consider to get a fix of thrift, and not a bad one either.
Before going to the store, I had read many negative reviews, which ultimately were far from the truth. I was pleasantly surprised to see a larger variety of clothes than I had expected. The staff was nice and the changing rooms were open, which made me feel confident about the items I was buying.
However, the store’s prices were disappointing. A thin sweater on average costs $12, a high price when considering the material and prior use, and most pairs of jeans were priced as high as $50. One reason for thrifting’s rise in popularity among our generation is because of its cheaper price tags since many students don’t have a lot of money to spare on clothing.
Regardless, Plato’s Closet is a nearby second-hand store for those who want to try thrifting or selling, and I’m glad I went despite the negative reviews.
Goodwill is a large chain of thrift stores and is renowned for its high quality throughout almost all of its locations. The Boston location is my personal favorite as it’s both close to South (14 minutes from Newton Centre), and it carries unique items and decorations.
Goodwills sell a wide selection of clothing, home decor and kitchenware, a key difference from other thrift stores on this list. While places like Plato’s Closet and Savers might be almost entirely centered around clothing, almost half of what Goodwill offers can most likely be seen in your kitchen or living room. The number of times I’ve found cute cups, lamps and figurines makes going there a guaranteed adventure.
The only problem I’ve had shopping at Goodwill was with customer service. It really depends when you go — the staff can be great some days and difficult to get help from on other days.
Overall, Goodwill is a store that is perfect for students who are looking to shop for good quality items, including items other than clothing, for less.
Out of all of the thrift stores on this list, Savers is severely underrated. It’s not talked about much, but is a hidden gem, especially for beginners.
It’s a 10-minute drive from South to West Roxbury, which makes Savers an instant go-to thrift store for when I don’t feel like driving far.
The store offers a range of different clothing, shoes and accessories. There are at least eight racks of clothing, organized from t-shirts to jackets. The shoes are all lined up on shelves, categorized seasonally, with boots on one end and sandals on the other.
My favorite part about Savers is that they have a specific spot for bags and a glass case with jewelry, unlike other stores, which have items scattered everywhere.
Everything is affordable, varying from $3 to $7 depending on the item’s quality and brand.
The store has a satisfactory amount of good quality outfits and is definitely worth a try for people who want an easy and effective thrifting experience.
Ultimately, out of the four stores, I’d recommend Goodwill and Savers. These stores are often overlooked because they aren’t “trendy,” though they are often cheaper and better quality than Plato’s Closet and Garment District. With the clout that they have, stores like Plato’s and the Garment District can raise their prices and do, while Goodwill and Savers realize the true value of thrifting, which is affordability, efficiency and battling the prominent problem of overconsumption.
Unfortunately, the resurgence of thrifting has brought with it negative impacts. Many people rely on second-hand stores for all their clothing, not out of an attempt to stick with trends. While we may take going to thrift shops and finding a cute top or vintage pair of jeans as a fun weekend plan, people living at the poverty line need these lower costs to get the clothes so many of us take for granted. That’s not to say those who don’t need to thrift shouldn’t, but it is important to stay conscious of our consumerism habits and who we may be harming by over-thrifting.