‘You never know what you are going to find’: Thrifters adapt to pandemic shopping

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For some, shopping second-hand is just a hobby. To others, it's a lifestyle filled with the wonder of their next great find. This past year, shoppers had to adapt to a life of thrifting during a pandemic. (Archive photo)

For some, shopping second-hand is just a hobby. To others, it’s a lifestyle filled with the wonder of their next great find. This past year, shoppers adapted to a life of thrifting during a pandemic.

“I think this past year, people are realizing how resourceful they can be, and how many things you can get thrifting and shopping second-hand,” Andrew Kemp, junior in business, said. “A lot of people found it as a good new hobby — something to do during the pandemic and a new way to express themselves.”

Some people may hesitate about thrifting because they don’t know where the item came from, William Augustine, assistant general manager of the Goodwill in Manhattan, said.

Augustine said he enjoys looking at the items in his store and wondering where they’ve come from and who used them.

“You never know what you are going to find,” Cathryn Haas, senior in biology, said. “You can walk in and see the coolest things.”

Similar to many businesses in Manhattan, thrift stores like Goodwill adapted to life during a pandemic and found ways to keep employees, customers and donors safe.

“When we reopened, we had to do a lot of things differently,” Augustine said. “With donations, everyone donating had to wear a mask and we had to quarantine our donations for at least 48 hours initially. When we started putting products out on the floor, we were sanitizing everything.”

Once businesses began to re-open, secondhand stores saw an overload of donations. Some thrifters took this opportunity to shop in a less-crowded market of an overloaded inventory.

“There has been a lot less people, so I find way better things and I’ve been loving it,” Hass said.

Kemp said more people got into this trend, looking for things to do when they get bored.

Kemp owns his own business where he buys local thrift and vintage finds and resells them on his Instagram. He thrifts almost every day, searching for interesting clothes that he will can sell online. While he is shopping, he tends to avoid looking for anything in particular and just sees what the store has to offer.

“It is very important to be open-minded, by looking for absolutely anything you can find when you are going,” Kemp said.

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