Fueled by back-to-school shopping ads for big-box stores and a constant flood of hot new trends on social media, modern-day shopping habits often feed the flow of fast fashion – the production of low-quality, low-cost clothing.
But as interest in thrifting and consignment shopping grows among young consumers, there’s a new group of influencers: young adults and even school-aged children sharing their finds from local thrift stores and larger chains such as Goodwill and Savers. Smartphone apps to help discover the best secondhand finds are thriving, and local store owners say young people are sparking conversations about sustainability and low-cost alternatives to shopping new.
One of those local merchants, Cathy Dubois, owner of Twice as Nice Designs in Pembroke, said her customer base has gotten younger and younger over the last few years, and her Facebook following continues to grow.
The market for shopping secondhand is expected to keep growing, says a recent report from online used clothing seller ThredUp. The market in the U.S. is predicted to double by 2026, bringing in about $82 billion that year. ThredUp found that 62% of Gen Z and millennial shoppers are searching for items secondhand before buying them new. Those two groups represent an age range of about 10 to 40.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent data from 2018 shows that about 17 million tons of textiles were generated that year and around 66% of ended up in landfills. Only around 15% of the textiles were recycled.
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Style meet sustainability
Shop owners are