Gentrification of thrifting: is it ethical to buy, resell?


Frida Ruiz photographed by Isabella Kneeshaw.

Frida Ruiz, Staff Writer

TikTok has started many trends these past two years, especially clothing micro-trends. With the constant consummation of fast fashion, thrifting has made an appearance among teens and young adults. Thrifting has been around for over 100 years, with the Salvation Army opening its first thrift store in the 1800s.

With time, the act evolved, and buying second-hand items became something you can do straight from your phone. Depop and Poshmark introduced us to a world of resellers. Resellers buy from second-hand stores and sell items for more money, which brings up an important conversation; is reselling actually ethical? To answer my questions, I talked with Tualatin high school junior and Instagram reseller Nate McDougal.


Q: How do you decide what you want to sell? Is it things you don’t wear anymore or do you buy to sell? 

A: I usually buy things I would like to wear, but I have way too many clothes, so I just sell them. 


Q: How do you price certain clothing? 

A: I tend to always want to make a profit, but since it’s used clothes, I sell them for half the price of what the original product would sell for. 


Q: Do you think pricing at thrift stores has gone up too high?

A: I would like to go out here and say Value Village is a scam. They are way too overpriced.


Q: Do you understand the frustration with reselling? 

A: I get why some people are mad. I see dudes pushing single mothers out of the way to get vintage clothing, and that’s too far. There are people who could really use these cheap and affordable clothes.


Q: What’s your point of view as a reseller? 

A: I think it’s good as long as you’re ethical and respectful. You’re making money and preventing these clothes from going to waste. 


After interviewing McDougal and putting my own thoughts together, reselling still has its pros and cons. While I can appreciate the way it helps the environment and helps young teens find a hustle, I can’t help but mention a big part of being “ethical” for reselling is recognizing your privilege. Low-income families still depend on these stores for their basic needs; their dependence on thrift stores hasn’t dissipated, and with the hardships caused by COVID-19 in recent years, this dependence has likely only increased. 

Next time you go on a thrifting trip, limit the items you get. Think, will I wear this? Would I wear this for the next year? If you won’t, put it back. By limiting items bought for profit, stores can continue to offer extremely inexpensive prices for both resellers and families who depend on the thrift store to meet their most basic needs. Everybody wins!