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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Salt Lake Vintage Resale Market

Many lower income students rely on thrift stores to get clothing for cheap, but the rapidly growing resale market has made this more difficult.
Andrea Oltra
Locals shop at the Vantage Thrift Store in Salt Lake City on Dec. 1, 2022. (Photo by Andrea Oltra | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Thrifting has become increasingly popular in recent years and has long been a staple for individuals of lower income to find affordable and fashionable clothing. However, thrift reselling has created rising prices for previously cheap clothing, and has left consumers wondering, “Is this ethical?”

Thrift store shoppers have always relied on the prices of second-hand items. Braden Timmerman, an English major at Salt Lake Community College, attends SLCC because of its affordability and relies on thrifting for the same reasons.

Timmerman said thrifting “helps me so much as a college student. As a student, all the money that I make over the year goes into tuition. Being able to have clothing that is accessible in a myriad of different ways is important to me.”

But recently, finding thrift items at stores has become more difficult — and expensive. He said resellers have made it harder to achieve both a good look and a low price while thrifting, and now dominate the thrift scenes.

“Flea markets and community market events are completely occupied by resellers, and I find that very discouraging,” Timmerman said. “When I arrive and find that it’s just resellers who are charging $50 to $60 for a pair of pants that they found for 8 dollars, it hurts. My friends and I have realized that this thing that was for us is now no longer accessible.”

To Resell or Not To Resell

Off The Rack, a company created by U Alumni Susma Gurung and Michael Gonzalez, hosts monthly flea markets at the U where thrift resellers can sell to students. According to their website, their values include sustainability and supporting local businesses.

“We want to reduce waste going out,” Gonzalez said. “One, we want to minimize. And, two, we’re trying to educate people on how the fashion world works.”

In addition, Gurung defined “sustainable fashion” as “taking used clothes and selling them and making them trendy.”

According to Off the Rack’s website, another way they are committed to sustainability is by “promoting the reuse, recycling, and repurposing” of clothing items.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that Americans created 17 million tons of waste through used textiles in 2018 alone. According to The RoundUp, fast fashion companies create 100 billion garments each year — and 87% of those will end up in landfills.

But Timmerman doesn’t believe that resellers are combating these issues.

“If we’re trying to look at thrifting and the concept of reselling thrifting items from an ethical or moral standpoint, I feel like it is counterintuitive to try to make an argument as a reseller for reselling,” he said. “The reason fast fashion is such an issue is because clothing is rather expensive, and the idea of getting multiple nice pieces of clothing for affordable prices — that’s the same reason that people thrift.”

A term often used when talking about resellers is “thrift gentrification,” which is when people with higher incomes buy items from thrift stores that lower-income communities rely on and resell them at much higher prices.

“I’ve heard the term thrift gentrification,” Gurung said. “Completely understandable where people are coming from, regarding pricing their products. But I think from a vendor’s perspective, the process of handpicking those items and allocating their time and energy into gathering all the items is a lot of work.”

Gonzalez explained that they are working to support small businesses that come from the community that benefit from reselling.

“The other way we are impacting sustainability is by supporting small businesses,” he said.

Gonzalez said many of the resellers Off The Rack works with are from low-income communities.

“They’re already in that area that is being gentrified,” he said. “So when they’re doing it for themselves, I don’t see much of a problem.”

Nevertheless, Timmerman said he believes resellers are taking from the community who rely on affordable pieces of clothing.

“To take clothes from the community of people who are trying to thrift these things for lower prices to afford them better, and then to resell them and position yourself as someone who is benefiting the community, to me is arrogant,” he said.

Timmerman says that he would like to see some change in the reselling scene, such as lowering prices.

“Just be honest with why we are here and what we’re doing,” he added. “Are you there to sell things because you enjoy the things that people thrift and talk about outfits? I feel like if you’re dedicated to being an honest reseller, then you probably wouldn’t be a reseller.”


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About the Contributors
Ethan Udy
Ethan Udy, News Writer
(he/they) Ethan Udy is pursuing journalism as a career and for a degree. He seeks to spread information through objective writing and emotional photography work that will touch his audience. Outside of writing, he enjoys Utah’s unique scenery, writing music, landscape photography, and enjoying the company of good friends.
Andrea Oltra
Andrea Oltra, Photographer
Andrea grew up in Spain and is studying psychology as well as documentary studies. She loves to travel and take photos wherever she goes.

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    TheresaNov 16, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    I have a lot of clothes! I would love to sell! Like new stuff!