by Hanna Khoronov
A few years ago, when someone would utter “consignment shop,” “resale,” or “thrift store,” their words would be met with pity or disdain. The image conjured was that of lines of cars waiting to drop off used goods and clothing at the local Salvation Army or nearest Goodwill. Shoppers were more willing to wait in line at the mall at more costly wears than look through the racks at these second hand shops.
Yet after the Great Recession hit in December 2007, “consignment” became synonymous with “chic.”
During the Recession the housing bubble burst, millions lost their jobs, and suddenly the need for Americans to cut spending was not only necessary but essential. “By the last quarter of 2008, as the recession deepened, consumers cut spending by over $200 billion from the previous year. . .” (Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Needless to say, shoppers were no longer going out to look at the latest styles. Yet it became imperative to have a source of income and maintain a clean image for prospective job seekers. Consumers began looking to previously snubbed resale stores to meet both of those requirements.
Goodwill reported $2.8 billion in retail sales from 2,324 nonprofit thrift stores in 2009 according to NARTS, the Association of Resale Professionals. Even the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop (a non-profit second hand store which donates all proceeds to the ACS Foundation) gained recognition in local communities.
As familiarity with resale developed, so did the industry’s desire to find a more attractive means of enticing shoppers. Thus brick and mortar shops designed specifically for the resale of clothing, shoes, and accessories began taking root. Crossroads Trading Co., one of the first of their kind, took resale one step further to the online market. What better way to sell one’s wares than on the same platform as millions of online job seekers? As Crossroads Trading Co.’s popularity grew (a NARTS member, they reported over $20 million in sales during 2012) others followed in their footsteps.