Second-hand swag: Thrift shop shopping

UB students thrift their wardrobe to save money


Maggie LeClair’s wardrobe is completely recycled and pays for itself.

After every clothing season, the junior environmental and geosciences major sells her unwanted clothes to thrift stores and uses the money she makes to buy new, thrifted clothes.

“I don’t think I’ve been to the mall since high school,” LeClair said. “Actually, the last time was to go to AT&T to get a new phone.”

LeClair is one of many UB students who now go to thrift stores as a way to add interesting clothing pieces to their wardrobe. The stores provide a way to save on the cost of continuously buying new clothes or as a way to reduce waste.

LeClair has been thrifting her clothes for more than four years as an affordable alternative to retail stores. To her, thrifting is more than a fad – it’s an affordable and environmental way to update her look.

The process of making clothing requires materials that are harsh on the earth, LeClair said.

“Think about all the resources it takes to make an article of clothing,” she said. “It’s made in a factory so you’re using fossil fuels, and some of the materials being grown and produced have a negative impact on the environment.”

She doesn’t feel it’s worth buying new clothing if she has the opportunity items locally and repurposed.

For Meredith Garrison, a senior environmental sciences major, it’s the story behind the clothes that attracts her to thrifting.

The majority of Garrison’s clothing is from thrift stores or garage sales. Since the sixth grade, Garrison and her mother have shopped at thrift stores and second-hand shops for almost anything they needed – whether it’s apparel, furniture or cookware.

“Everything has a story,” Garrison said. “I have a story about every single thing I’m wearing.”

Garrison, who wears at least two to three thrifted pieces a day, has gotten them from various locations – whether it’s a thrift store in Buffalo or a second-hand shop in California. She likes to continue the story of the clothes by re-donating them. She donated 20 bags of clothing to local thrift stores since last year.

Although the affordability factor is important, Naeem Rigaud, a junior media study major, sees thrifting as a “lifestyle.”

“You can’t just say you want to go thrifting,” Rigaud said. “[Finding] a lot of the stuff I find takes hard work. It sounds weird, but it takes work.”

His style began to evolve in high school, which is why he and his friends started thrifting, he said.

“Ever since I got into my own style and my own unique style, why go retail where everybody else is shopping and everyone else looks the same?” Rigaud said.

After his first second-hand purchase, Rigaud has been thrifting more often, especially in Buffalo. He said he finds a lot of his “dopest stuff” from the Salvation Army.

Like Rigaud, for Garrison, thrifting is a form of expression that can’t be replicated in a retail store.

“I got tired of seeing people wear the same stuff,” Garrison said.

Garrison attended a high school with a dress code and she wanted to see how far she “could push the limitations.” So, she picked items from different places that would stand out in her school.

LeClair also thrifts for professional clothing. When she needed a cheap business-casual outfit for an interview, she went to Amvets Thrift Store.

“I would not have been able to look as nice as I did with a minimum wage job working only a few hours a week in-between school,” Leclair said.

Thrift stores can give people the impression the clothing is out of date, Garrison said.

LeClair said finding stylish clothing might seem difficult, but that’s part of what makes thrifting fun and enjoyable.

“Be very open to the idea that everything you see on the rack is so unique,” she said. “You can find the weirdest, coolest things ever and you have to be creative but it’s a lot of fun. Be open to the fact that you’re making a collage on your body.”