At a flea industry in West Philadelphia, Anya Miller picked out a white vintage crew neck tee with “Lancaster County” on the entrance. “What are the prospects that I would obtain this piece below?” states Miller who grew up in Lancaster County. “I use it all the time. I like it.”

Miller also has fantastic luck acquiring pants secondhand — but she generally thrifts for pleasurable, with pals. Thrifting is a pastime. It’s sustainable. But as a college university student finding out sociology, she wondered if thrifting for pleasurable harm those people who count on cut price prices.

She turned this into her thesis at College of Pennsylvania, where she’ll graduate in May. Interviews with dozens of customers and retail store workers verified some of her assumptions and remaining a lot of place for much more research.

Miller grew up in Manheim Township and Warwick Township, exactly where moms and dads Tyrone and Debra, even now are living. She was portion of the Linden Hall basketball team that achieved state playoffs, graduating in 2019. She put in a great element of her college vocation finding out on-line in the course of a pandemic.

In her goal to make a distinction and aid marginalized groups, Miller sees investigation as a potent device to elevate recognition about troubles. She acquired about sustainability though interning at textile nonprofit Hecho por Nosotros in a analyze abroad plan in Buenos Aires.

By the time courses returned to in-person, she merged these interests into a study of Philadelphia’s secondhand retailers.

Prior to she sets her sights on discovering a position in federal government or the nonprofit earth, Miller shared more about her exploration and how to be a far better thrifter, over and above discovering the greatest specials. This dialogue has been edited for clarity and duration.

Could you explain your thesis?

Basically, the question that I was wanting to respond to was how does socioeconomic status inform and effects secondhand buying ordeals. I applied two techniques: interviews with shoppers and thrift shop house owners, managers and personnel who can present the more substantial picture and extended-expression understanding.

Why did you want to take a look at this topic?

Remaining a member of Gen Z, I’ve observed a ton on TikTok, on YouTube, this increase in thrifting, men and women posting thrift hauls. I do enjoy thrifting, but I can see from a length the implications of thrifting on lower-cash flow men and women. I wished to examine that, mostly to make certain that thrift stores are however serving the inhabitants that they ended up made to provide and also as a consciousness-raising device, encouraging conscious consumption, building certain, for instance if you can find the money for to buy shoes and coats somewhere else, then you should do so. These items tend to be additional high priced in other places.

How considerably of a thrifter are you?

I go almost certainly once every two months. There is a flea current market nearby I go there every single weekend. Most of the time, I don’t basically purchase anything at all. I take pleasure in the practical experience of it. But I’m also, primarily from this project, conscious of my own use. I’m not in a area now in which I actually need to have to be purchasing a lot more.

What are some of the most vital takeaways from your thesis?

The very first 1 is the most important and type of obvious. But it was good to place it into words and phrases, set it into figures. I established a pyramid that exhibits how socioeconomic position may differ with thrifting motives. For illustration, small-money people, they usually described thrifting out of necessity. As you go up the socioeconomic pyramid, individuals thrift for pattern. They grew up thrifting. Previously mentioned that are people who thrift for leisure, a pastime or they want exclusive finds. At the leading of this pyramid have been folks who thrifted as a form of advantage or advantage-signaling. They had been there for sustainability or they are anti-consumerist, and this method of intake most aligned with their values.

The other a single was thrifting is getting a gentrified place. Believe of the designer, vintage retailers with bigger price factors. A whole lot of that came from the conversations with retailer administration, how they’ve seen a decrease in their Black client foundation though seeing more white, youthful, extra rich consumers. Buyers noted they’ve viewed rises in price ranges about time.

You requested in your research if the rise in thrifting is undertaking additional hurt or great in Philadelphia. Did you find an remedy?

I assume that any time that persons are thrifting in a aware way, aware of their socioeconomic standing, acutely aware of what they are in fact consuming, aware of if they need to have to be consuming or not, thrifting is great. Observing this gentrification of thrifting is regarding primarily if it carries on and reduced-income populations are being displaced from their retailers. So, these days, it’s accomplishing much more fantastic than hurt.

A lot more study would require to be performed to notify no matter if or not this is truly impacting what they are equipped to obtain and the availability of items in retailers.

Are there any advantages to thrifting staying trendy?

The trendiness of it has lessened the stigma of it, regardless of social class.

As a lot of people are consuming at thrift suppliers, they’re also donating to thrift outlets, which is excellent.

It also retains garments out of landfills. Irrespective of who is carrying out the consuming from a thrift shop, it is continue to a lot more environmentally helpful than it would be to shop at H&M, Endlessly 21, these rapidly fashion companies that are putting out 52 seasons a yr.

It does flip into type of its possess intake loop, since men and women feel greater about thrifting so they thrift far more.

What do you consider about curated stores in which men and women acquire thrifted things and mark up the charges?

This reseller marketplace is kind of exploding ideal now. I consider, in basic, it goes from the spirit of what thrifting is for: making issues available, assisting the atmosphere. That being claimed, I really do not essentially see, like, these tremendous highly-priced boutique thrift outlets to be in level of competition with the Goodwill, because the focus on audiences are totally different.

Who’s permitted to shop at secondhand retailers?

Going again to coats, items that are requirements and high priced at the retail price tag need to be reserved for lower-cash flow people today, with purchasers acutely aware of what they’re consuming, what is their revenue and no matter if or not they need to be getting those goods.

Items like T-shirts, it is dependent on the store. A retail outlet that I go into often has a surplus of T-shirts and athleisure. That is far more honest video game. Once again, be aware if you want to be consuming at all.

Also, enterprise dresses in typical, suits are pricey at retail. Be aware about operate clothing.

Are there any other tips you have for thoughtful secondhand use?

Be conscious about the matters you are buying and if you have to have to be obtaining. When wealthier men and women enter thrift stores, be respectful of that house. Know what it was created for, it was not meant for them.

Are you heading to continue your investigate?

Right after crafting 45 webpages, I have to have a break. But I am tremendous fascinated in this investigate.


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