Kayley Van Der Stoel is a professional thrifter in Lethbridge, Alta.
“For me it’s kind of a fun thing, getting to go and find those pieces for people and resell it to them on an online basis,” Van Der Stoel said.
She says her thrifting business — Backdoor Laundry — has seen a major increase in interested shoppers during the pandemic.
“Even just my following online has definitely grown a ton in the last 10 to 11 months,” she said.
She says the increased interest could be due to more people seeking affordable, sustainable shopping from home at a time of general uncertainty.
Van Der Stoel adds it’s a wonderful way to be more eco-friendly and support local. In fact, she says more locals have started up their own online thrift businesses during the pandemic.
“They’re like, ‘We need to reduce clutter in my own closet,'” she laughed. “So maybe that’s where it starts and then it grows into continuing to thrift from there.”
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Some, like Handed Down Co., outside of Lethbridge, offer second hand items for niche markets such as parents.
“Like toddler and baby clothes,” Van Der Stoel explained. “Because it’s actually crazy how much it costs to buy brand new clothes for your kids and babies and stuff, especially when they’re growing out of them right away.”
Mission Thrift Store general manager Marlene Braak says even with the impact of COVID-19 on retail thrift stores, they too have seen an uptick in new customers.
“We don’t get as many customers in as we would like because of the shortened hours,” Braak said. “But we are seeing a lot of new people.”
Braak says at a time when many feel a disconnect with their community, some people like the fact that their dollars are also going to help others through local organizations.
“We help them when they need any help — and families,” she said. “If they’re struggling… we try to help out where we can.”
One disadvantage is the impact on Mission Thrift’s volunteer base.
“Our volunteers are senior-based,” Braak said. “And a lot of them are not willing to come in, so if anyone wants to come out and volunteer, come on down.”
With the spike in consignment interest, these thrift businesses are hoping the trend continues well past the COVID-19 pandemic.