Oct 07 2008

More ‘middle class’ folks shopping at thrift stores

Apparently, more middle-class folks are shopping at thrift stores, according to this article from CNN.com.

From the article:

“We’re seeing a lot more middle-class and upper-class customers we haven’t seen before,” (said a Salvation Army store operator). “Without even asking, you can just look in the parking lot (at their cars).”

I’ll make some broad assumptions, too. I guess “middle class” people drive certain types of cars. Which might these be? Shiny new cars? Clunkers? Something in-between? You can’t tell by looking at a car if it’s paid for, leased, or financed. I’m going to be bold and assume a lot of these middle class cars aren’t paid in full. Hard telling, unless you actually ask the driver.

Recently, J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly pointed out that slightly more millionaires drive Fords than Cadillacs. Interesting.

So, for pete’s sake, don’t judge a person’s financial status by the car they drive! I’d rather have a paid-for Ford than a six-year note on a Caddy.

Other interesting tidbits from the article:

  • “The Salvation Army reports a dangerous decline in donations. Just as consumers are now more likely to buy secondhand goods, they are also less likely to get rid of their used clothing or furniture.”
  • Shoppers include bargain-hunters and people interested in recycling.
  • Now that thrifting has become more mainstream, industry folks expect the trend to last — at least while the economy is in the toilet.

I love thrift and consignment stores. I’ve found things for my home, maternity clothes (hi, clothes with tags still on!), baby clothes & gear, and plenty more. I’ve gotta be careful, though. It’s easy to overspend there since you know you’re getting such a bargain.

18 Responses to “More ‘middle class’ folks shopping at thrift stores”

  1. I worked at a bank for a few years and it was always the folks with modest and older cars that had the most money in the bank. Those that tried to “look like money” on average had very little. Hmm….maybe that’s how you get ahead, huh?

  2. I wonder if the decline in donations has to do with the ease of using freecycle and craigslist. I’m sure people would rather get even $5 for something than give it away for free.

  3. I drive a second-hand clunker, but my income would be considered in the upperclass range ($200k)….

    Fabulously Broke’s last blog post..Mandatory life skills?

  4. The expression “big hat, no cattle” pretty much says it all. :)

  5. My husband just bought his first new, new car recently. Before that he always drove second hand cars. Also, he dresses casual all the time. I often wonder what people think about his financial status. He is great with money though. And I love thrift store shopping. I get the most compliments from pieces I find at thrift stores.

    Dani’s last blog post..Joyriding Without Any Keys

  6. Yikes, I never thought about hard times meaning less stuff donated to thrift stores and more regular folks shopping there, but that makes total sense. I have a bag full of clothes I’ve been meaning to bring to Goodwill for months — maybe I should go ahead and do that!

    And yes, we have some family friends who are very wealthy but drive totally normal cars because they just don’t feel the need to be flashy. Then I’ll go to the mall and see some girls who don’t dress well and look a little trashy, but they carry Coach or LV bags…that obviously aren’t real. It’s kind of funny how people always want to appear opposite of what they are. However, I think it’s easier to hide as a rich person in poor clothes than a poor person in rich clothes.

    Emily’s last blog post..Fed and the credit crunch out-news Miley Cyrus credit card flap, 2-1

  7. I agree with Emily about people wanting to appear to be what they’re not. Those who have very little money (I see a lot of them at work) are generally wearing expensive brand names, have their nails/hair done, etc. They may have gotten their things secondhand, but they still have the stuff. Lots of upper/middle class people are trying to live modestly right now, and I think there’s actually a feeling of shame associated with wasting money among some communities. (If you go to a place where people have nothing, and you’re flashing your high-dollar bling, it’s hard not to be ashamed.) I think a lot of rich people do get (or stay) rich from saving wisely. My grandmother has always been the thrifty queen, never throwing anything away, almost to a fault. She lived through the Depression so it’s ingrained in her. We used to joke about it but now I’m proud of her and I think it’s paid off.

    What’s interesting to me about what the lady in your article said is that people would acquire an expensive car, whether they could afford it or not, and then go to a thrift store. The two are just incongruous. You’d think if someone wanted an expensive new car, they’d want new clothes and stuff too. There’s this subculture of people who are like “ick! Wear other people’s clothes?!” That just ticks me off.

    Jenny’s last blog post..WW: Baby’s first spoon-licking experience

  8. The traffic has increased at our church Thrift Store. People are definitely looking for a better deal!


  9. I LOVE shopping thrift stores! Being thrifty is like a sport for me! I LOVE YOUR SITE, YOU’RE ON MY HEART LIST!!

  10. Thrift stores are cool……for me, I love shopping in a place called the “Book Rack”, a 2nd hand book store in my town. I dropped off a ton of books to them and they gave me credit…..I go in and buy a 2nd hand hardcovers for $2.50….I love them

  11. Thrift stores are one of the best bargains in town! As someone with kids I think it’s a better deal to get a lightly used clothing item than a new one I know they’ll outgrow in no time at all.

    It’s good that the stigma of buying used is starting to disappear again. Maybe the period of excess will decline for more people and we (as a society) can live a bit more responsibly again.

    DollarTamer’s last blog post..Printable KFC Coupons

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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