It’s a busy post-Christmas shopping day at the Vintage Thrift Shop in Gramercy Park. Shoppers like Anna Pakhomova, peruse secondhand items, they say are unique and one of a kind.
“I’m not a big holiday shopper, I just purchase things when I see them for other people,” said Pakhomova.
It’s a trend that assistant manager Will Beck says he is noticing, shoppers warming to the idea of buying secondhand clothing as gifts for others.
“A week or two before Christmas it really did pick up a lot especially compared to years past,” he said.
At the thrift shop, where all items are donated and purchases benefit the United Jewish Council of the East Side, you might find bargains on down coats and faux leather dresses, maybe even Hermes ties. But it seems the changing consumer attitude toward buying secondhand is not limited to bargain hunters.
Shannon Hoey, owner of New York Vintage, a designer couture vintage clothing store, says she’s seen a similar trend in recent years.
“I think that people are moving away more and more from fast fashion and looking for curated one of kind unique pieces,” Hoey said. Her shop stocks unique pieces, like a pink feather Saint Laurent jacket made around 1987 and a transparent Moschino jacket that says “Save Nature” on the back.
But whether it is a high end, hard to find designer gown, or a thrifted ready-to-wear wool dress, a recent survey by Accenture suggests that the consumer appetite for used merchandise is sizeable, even when it comes to gift-giving. Forty-eight percent of people surveyed said they would consider giving secondhand clothing as a gift.
“Especially men – men all the time,” said Hoey. “Men are always coming in for their wives and girlfriends, looking for really special one of a kind [gifts],” she said.
But like the survey suggests, not all are sold on the idea.
“No I would not buy used or repurposed clothing for somebody as a gift,” said Chris Thompson. “I think that’s kind of tacky.”
“I don’t think I would,” Tim Bush said. “If I couldn’t afford new clothes for somebody, I think I’d probably just find something else for them.”
Even some thrift store shoppers agreed. Buying secondhand for someone else might be a stretch.
Nicole Phillips, who was browsing in the Vintage Thrift Shopped, worried what the recipient would infer from receiving a secondhand clothing gift.
“That maybe I was being cheap or that I didn’t want to spend the money to buy something new,” Phillips explained.
Shoppers who buy secondhand say it doesn’t matter where the clothing is coming from; it’s about where it is going – not to a landfill. So whether it’s a donated blouse or a transparent Moschino jacket, some could say it’s the age old adage that really matters.
“It’s not about the gift, it’s about the heart,” said Lincoln Wright. “That’s why my momma always told me to take the price tag off.”