Monday, August 17, 2020

3 Ways to Thrift Shop Safely (Online) During COVID-19

Spring, summer, resort, back-to-school… we might have all been excited to shop for the trappings for these occasions… but COVID! Sigh.

Even though in BC it’s now socially acceptable to hang out while physically distancing in outdoor spaces, the indoor shopping routines aren't easy to navigate. 

Some stores require masks, some don’t, some have no-touch shopping policy or change rooms are closed (what’s the point of shopping in person then?!). One of the hardest parts probably has to do with not the stores, but how other fellow shoppers respect the 2m rule. Then there are the complications of shopping at thrift stores during a pandemic; while for the most part, it now looks like the virus doesn’t spread easily on contaminated surfaces, it would be fair to have some hesitation about shopping amongst racks of used clothing right now.

We understand that thrifting is at its finest when you’re in-store finding that gem of an item, the way Vancouver blogger Vicki Duong thrifted a Louis Vuitton clutch for a grand total of—wait for it—fourteen dollars!

Not to worry, with the pandemic serving as a catalyst for all businesses to pivot online, thrifting has never been easier. Here are three ways you can maintain your style while saving some dollars and staying safe:

#1) Your Local Consignment Store Is Likely Online

Britta & Lee of LegalLee Blonde visiting Mine & Yours, before the pandemic. Shop them online now!

TBH, I never checked local consignment stores online prior to our current situation. I mean, why bother? The thrill was in the in-store hunt! Be it a double-edged sword, now you can shop in the comfort of your own (WF)H.  

  1. The Main Exchange:

Find carefully curated styles that cater to a feminine and modern aesthetic. There are plenty of Aritzia brands! The size range skews small, but of course larger sizes are included as well. There’s free shipping on purchases over $150, otherwise a $9 flat rate.

  1. Turnabout:

Over the years, Turnabout has expanded to eight stores. That’s eight stores worth of inventory, all online! Insiders tip: Find items for up to 50% off online during stat holidays. A friend recently got a Chanel bag for just over $2500, spent $295 on a Chloe purse, got Tom Ford sunglasses for $75… you get the gist. Shipping is free for orders over $200, but with such a great selection, it won’t be hard to meet that minimum.

  1. Mine & Yours

Gucci, Hermes, Chanel, oh my! Mine & Yours is one of the top luxury consignors in the city. There are some good deals to be found on brands like The Kooples, Rachel Comey, Self-Portrait, Off-White and more… all the way up to a $16,000 Hermes Kelly bag. All items are authenticated by a third party authentication partner. Shipping is free over $100, otherwise $10 flat.

  1. Hunter & Hare

At Hunter & Hare, it’s all about community: In celebration of Pride this year, they donated 25% of sales to Vancouver-based charity, QMUNITY. In addition to offering well priced and quality consignment goods, they also support local and independent brands. Shopping at H&H is great for people, the planet, and of course, your wallet. Shipping is free over $150.

  1. Front & Company

From cheap and cheerful to designer brands, Main Street establishment Front & Company carries it all. It’s a crowd favourite for both men and women with a hip/hipster vibe. Be sure to stop by the store in person once COVID-19 is finally over, and check out their renowned window displays. Free shipping in Canada over $100.

  1. Hey Jude

For the true environmentalists at heart, the ones who are adamant that fashion should be slow, Hey Jude is the place to be, online. Owners Lauren Clark and Lyndsey Chow hand-pick vintage-inspired contemporary collections. You can choose to pick up your goods curbside, which are usually ready within an hour.

#2) Secondary Marketplaces are Great Places to Find Gems

Hunter boots Britta purchased through Facebook (which have since gotten lots of use!), for half the retail price!

When you’re buying directly from another seller, and not via an authorized business, we know things can get a bit shady. Just look out for things like how many photos have been posted and how detailed the description is. On the flip side of the equation is because you are buying directly from another seller, you can negotiate! 

What’s great about local secondary markets is that most people are now geared to accept e-transfers or leave items outside their homes for contactless pickup. Warning: shopping from secondary marketplaces can be addicting and cause you to constantly refresh to see new items.

  1. Craigslist

It’s a mixed bag on Craigslist, so it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a deal rather than for something super specific. Personally, I haven’t shopped too much for clothes on Craigslist, but it’s pretty handy for home decor. When I first moved out, I spent only $1100 to fully furnish my apartment, and that was including a few new items not from Craigslist!

  1. Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace trumps Craigslist simply because it’s a social network, which means you can see if you and the seller have friends in common, how highly rated the seller is on traits like Responsiveness or Friendliness. I found an Aritzia shirt that was worn once for 75% off the retail price. Britta has also gotten a great deal on Hunter rain boots for half the retail price.

#3) Resale Sites are The Real Deal

Britta found a perfect replacement for this blazer on Poshmark, after getting a stain on her old one. Just $15!

There are a slew of these great resale sites, like Tradesy or Rebag for luxury fashion… if you live in the US. The former doesn’t ship to Canada, and shipping for the latter will set you back $50USD. Sigh, again. 

Thank goodness, a few operate or ship to Canada:

  1. Poshmark

According to Poshmark, they are one of the leading social commerce platforms for the next generation of retailers and shoppers. They boast 60 million community members across the U.S. and Canada, and have about 100 million items for sale. There’s a sale made every second! Their platform makes it incredibly easy to list your second-hand fashion items for sale, as well as makes it easy to find and shop new items in other Poshers’ closets. You can follow Poshers’ closets you like to make sure you always see what’s new, plus you can share and like listings that catch your eye. They even have a new Posh Stories feature which allows you to sell and shop listings with short videos!

Britta has an account and has made a number of sales using the platform, and has been able to put those earnings towards purchasing second hand items within Poshmark - like the tuxedo blazer you see above! Her Poshing tip: prices aren’t firm - there’s an option to make an offer rather than simply buy at their set price, so make them an offer and see if you can come to an agreement that’s a great deal!

  1. ThredUP

ThreadUP claims to be the world’s largest online consignment and thrift store. They have over two million items at any given time, so we’d say that’s pretty accurate! Instead of shopping by brand or by product category, currently the homepage allows you to shop by product category or style filtered by price (ie. under $10!). It’s a lot of fast fashion, but you’ll also find the odd Elizabeth & James or Vince Camuto. Beware the shipping though, there’s base (not flat) shipping cost that will increase as you add more items. And don’t forget duties!

Notable mentions: higher end resell sites such as TheRealReal, Vestiaire Collective, What Comes Around Goes Around, and LePrix ship to Canada too!

Bonus: Shop Your Own Closet

There are many reasons why we thrift: to find a good deal, to seek unique items, or to help the environment by not buying something new. Most of us have a closet full of options, so why not take a good look and start there? We had to throw this last one in there because there’s no better way to have less environmental impact and be COVID-safe by coming up with new and creative styling solutions from your existing clothing collection.

Stay safe & have fun thrifting online!

Written by Miranda Sam, Edited by Britta Bisig

Miranda Sam is a freelance lifestyle writer, #girlmom, and Italian at heart. Keep up with her most recent venture, a functional + inclusive clothing line designed for petite women, here.  

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