I’ve heard a lot of comments as I’ve shopped at the thrift store. There have been positive comments like, “OMG you have to try this on!” There have also been some not-so-great comments like, “ugh, that looks awful!” After spending the time that is likely the equivalent of a part-time job thrifting, I decided that it’s finally time to make a series on this blog called “Overheard At The Thrift Shop.” I want to peel back some of the comments that I hear all the time — the good, the bad, and the controversial.
This week I’m starting with one of my all-time least favorite comments to overhear at the thrift shop: “I’m only here to buy…”
The other week I was trying clothes on in the Salvation Army thrift shop when I heard a man announcing himself throughout the store. I’m talking a booming voice that was yelling “COME ON SWEETIE! WE’RE ONLY HERE TO GET A HAWAIIAN SHIRT AND GET OUT!” to his daughter. Now, I get it. There are times when you need to get the little ones going. But this father was saying it all throughout the store. Stopped at the t-shirt rack, screamed it. Went to the button-ups, screamed it. Headed to the fitting room, screamed it.
I kid you not, I must have heard him say the same phrase eight times throughout the twenty minutes that he was in the thrift store. Then, to make matters even worse, he went to the checkout with his $1.99, bright orange shirt with yellow and green Palm Trees all over it and had to explain why he was there to the cashier. He went on and on about how he “doesn’t normally shop here” and was “only here for one thing.” While I can’t say what the man was thinking, it’s likely that he felt embarrassed about being in the thrift shop.
It’s perfectly fine to not be comfortable shopping at a thrift store. But this comment almost makes it seem like thrifting is something to be ashamed of.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again — leave your privilege at the door when you go thrift shopping. People thrift shop for all types of reasons. Some people go thrifting because it’s fun. Others go because they absolutely need to. There’s no reason to make anyone at the thrift shop feel bad about being there.
Comments and behavior like the above typically come from people with privilege. You know, people that are shopping for their ugly sweaters or theme parties. There is plenty of space for all shoppers in the thrift store, but no one should feel uncomfortable while being there.
I’m sure this man meant no harm by his comments. I don’t mean to shame him, and I didn’t mention anything to him as he yelled through the store. But it is an important reminder of how little comments that people make, at the thrift store or outside of its walls, can affect people.