Social Question

ArtiqueFox's avatar

Is it morally right for economically comfortable families to shop at thrift stores?

Asked by ArtiqueFox (974 points ) February 15th, 2010

I live near a needy area. Naturally, there are several thrift and “donation” stores, which of course get customers who can not afford the higher grade and new when it comes to clothing.

Today, though, I was on my way past one such thrift store, when I saw a Cadillac parked out front. Then a man came out with almost more clothes then he could carry. His “little” pile of used clothes made quite the contrast when compared to his snappy attire. Based on what I saw, I am confident he could have afforded to shop elsewhere…a higher quality elsewhere.

Is it morally right for people in a higher economic bracket [like him] to shop at thrift stores? Especially when there are poor people in the area who can’t afford anything but thrift stores? Seems like cheapskate robbery to me. What does the collective think?

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31 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

It’s necessary so that the charity can distribute the funds garnered from the sale of donated items. The more shoppers, the more good that is done.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think thrift stores are necessarily for the needy.

What needs to happen is that those who can afford to need to donate items to the thrift stores.

DominicX's avatar

My mom is loaded and loves shopping at thrift stores. So do I, to be honest. I believe anyone can shop at a thrift store. There’s no requirement for it and there shouldn’t be. It’s not like someone is going to go in and buy absolutely everything in the store. Not to mention there is a constant influx of new items into a thrift store.

syz's avatar

It’s my understanding that charities raise money by selling in thrift shops. If that is indeed true, then yes, it is morally right for well off shoppers to purchase items.

gemiwing's avatar

You have to pick where you spend your money. Do you want a new car or expensive clothes? If you choose a new car then the clothes budget must be cut.

Besides, he probably was ‘credit rich’ but doesn’t have much to show for it. Or maybe he was buying clothes for some poor people he knows. We honestly couldn’t say without asking him.

jonsblond's avatar

You can’t stay economically comfortable spending thousands at Macy’s. I see nothing wrong with any person that is trying to save money.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I would say that it’s morally questionable for the well-heeled to apply for food stamps, to stand on a bread line, to crash at a shelter or look for free furniture and such from St. Vincent de Paul (or equivalent) ... but they aren’t really doing that, are they?

But shopping at a thrift store is… shopping.

Broken_Arrow's avatar

They can shop wherever they want.

jonsblond's avatar

@Broken_Arrow Your avatar makes me giggle. Very fitting for your comment!

cheebdragon's avatar

Maybe that’s part of the reason they are “economically comfortable”.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Well at least the guy isn’t shopping at a department store full of cheaply made sweat shop clothes. By shopping at a thrift store he is going against our disposable society. What’s so wrong with that? Plus, a lot of vintage clothes are better made and will last longer than some crap made in Taiwan. I would say more “economically comforatable” people should shop this way.

Judi's avatar

Places like Goodwill train people to work. If there are no customers then they don’t have a job. I don’t think people are in there “snatching clothes” out of the hands of babies.
Everyone is hurting these days. If people can find a way to still get the items they like and save money too, maybe thriftiness will become a virtue again.

jerv's avatar

My mother earns about $60k/year and still gets all of her clothes from thrift shops just like she did back when she was a single mother on welfare.

Besides, the real reason for those shops is often to raise money for some charity or social program anyways. In that respect, I see it as almost commendable that this guy decided to give his money to aid the needy as opposed to swelling the coffers of companies that are already rich and just out for sheer profit.

Jeruba's avatar

Your assumption about the man could be incorrect. Maybe he had gone there to donate and his donation was rejected, so he was carrying the clothes back out. For example, the clothes might not have been clean and in wearable condition, or they might have been evening attire when the shop wanted everyday wear.

Judi's avatar

Or he could have been picking up clothes for a needy family.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Rich people don’t get rich by spending a lot of money.

Zajvhal's avatar

I am definitely all for thrift stores, for whoever wants to shop there. The more clothes and things that get reused, the less that get put in a dump, the more things that are bought from thrift stores, the less money is spent supporting mega corporations and creating more waste.

jerv's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Why do you think my mother is better off than people who out-earn her?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Pardon? I said nothing of your mother.

Symbeline's avatar

It’s an excellent idea for financially comfortable folks to shop at thrift shops. This way they help to support the establishment, ( Whether this is their intent or not. ) which in return can give back a lot more to the more unfortunate folks.

lilikoi's avatar

I think @dpworkin put it perfectly.

tentaclepuppy's avatar

It’s totally fine for anyone to shop at thrift stores. Now, I do know some college kids who, though they get a stipend from their parents, get food stamps too and use them to buy steak and stuff like that, and that’s pretty whack.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Hi tentaclepuppy,

Remember Ol Dirty Bastard from Wu Tang who would roll up in his limo to get food stamps?
That’s whack.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@tentaclepuppy I also know college kids on financial aid who drop their classes financial aid pays for to get a refund of that aid to buy other things,

ubersiren's avatar

It’s not like there’s a shortage of donations to these places, at least not in my neck of the woods.

wundayatta's avatar

We’ve donated a ton of stuff to our local thrift store. You mean to tell me I can’t go and buy it back??????

YARNLADY's avatar

Charity Thrift stores are there for the purpose of raising money for the charity, and to put people to work. They are not solely for the purpose of providing clothing and items to poor people. Here in our area, the For Profit second hand dealers are buying up so much of the Charity Store items, the prices have gone sky high.

Poor people have to go to the Charity clothing closets (special events) or large Charity functions at the public meeting halls to find low prices. Churches often hold charity bazaars to take up the slack, where the poor can buy clothing by the bag full.

There are also numerous yard sales every week, because more and more individuals are now selling their clothes rather than donate them.

thriftymaid's avatar

Why the heck wouldn’t it be?

Silhouette's avatar

I’d say yes, yes it is. Much better than buying over priced wares and validating the price tags. The money he spent in the Charity store will help keep the Charity stores doors open and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Warrior_INTJ's avatar

If any business relied solely on my poor but supporting them they’d go out of business ;-) So, yes it is right morally. In fact, the more money spent at those places the better for the folks they are helping to begin with.

john65pennington's avatar

Is it possible that this man was buying used clothing for homeless people?

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