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A Beginner’s Guide to Online Thrifting

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

By Kendra Stiers

Thrift-lovers know the struggle of spending hours at your local thrift or vintage store and coming away with nothing. You might sometimes wish there was an Amazon for secondhand clothes, and while there’s no one place you can go, online thrifting is an exciting new way to thrift without having to leave your house!

Not sure how to start or if online thrifting is the right move for you? Here are some of my favorite thrifting sites and apps, the pros and cons of online thrifting, and some tips for making your online thrifting experience as smooth as possible!

Poshmark, Depop, Vinted, and Mercari are online marketplaces where individuals sell their clothing (and often other cool things!). These are also good places to sell your clothing if you’re looking to clear out your wardrobe.

If you’re looking for something more centralized so that you don’t have to deal with haggling and shipping each individual item from different sellers, consider ThredUp!

Goodfair is online thrifting with a twist– it’s a mystery thrifting website, so you order a bundle based on what type of clothes you want, not a specific piece of clothing. If you don’t have something specific in mind and you’re up for a little adventure, this is the site for you!

Old classics like eBayand Instagram can also have some gems!

Pros of online thrifting

  • It’s convenient! All you need to do when you want to go thrifting is pull out your phone! It’s also easier to find exactly what you want because most if not all of the apps have a search feature– so no more endless searching for the perfect find!

  • Thrifting saves clothes from sitting in a landfill, so the environmental impact is positive! Although things still need to be delivered, so there’s still a car on the road, the impact of sending one delivery truck with dozens of orders is less than dozens of people in their own cars heading to Goodwill.

  • You can haggle with a lot of individual sellers on these apps for an extra good deal!

  • Although this is a pro for thrifting in general, you can find some really unique pieces that aren’t mass-produced anymore, and you can always thrift-flip them to make them your own!

Cons of online thrifting

  • There is still an environmental impact of thrifting– namely single-use, plastic packaging that is used to ship out clothes. Although some companies, like ThredUp, are moving towards more sustainable packaging.

  • Just like regular online shopping, you can’t try on the clothes before you buy them, and sometimes the return policies can be dicey. However, you can always turn right around and sell the clothes on the app you bought them from!

  • You’ll have to pay more for shipping and it’ll take longer to get to you than Amazon Prime orders. Keep in mind that shipping that takes a long time is more environmentally friendly!

The biggest con to online thrifting and thrifting, in general, is that both have come under fire for being a mode of gentrification. When we thrift, we actively take clothes away from low-income individuals that need clothes at lower prices. For example, the increasing popularity within Gen Z of thrifting at Goodwill has caused Goodwill to raise their prices in a basic model of supply and demand, making them less accessible to low-income communities. Reselling cheap finds at a marked-up price is another dubious practice that comes into play here.

There’s no easy solution to this because the control is more in the hands of large thrift store companies raising their prices. The best way to combat this is just by buying less. Buy clothes that you will wear and rewear and leave some for everybody else!

Online thrifting tips

  • Know your measurements so that you don’t have to buy and return as much.

  • Know the return policy and buy accordingly. If the site doesn’t offer returns, only buy what you’re sure about!

  • Invest time in the search– patience leads to the best finds.

  • Keep an open mind! Sometimes, you won’t find exactly what you wanted, but you also might stumble across a gem!

Happy thrifting!

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