Social Media and Thrifting
Yes I am a true Thrift Shopper. Long before “thrifting” was in fashion, I was a struggling student needing to pay tuition, eat and buy trendy but warm clothing with pennies. Thrift stores were small, cluttered and smelly. However, in recent years selling vintage clothing and accessories grew from a few sellers on Kijii to a full-blown retail business on Instagram. Suddenly, customers went from never admitting when asked “where did you get that great sweater?” that it was from a thrift store, to boasting about the find they found and how little they paid.
Thrift stores are now on Facebook, Instagram and blogs. Marketing how buying gently used items saves money and is environmentally conscious. Consistent digital marketing is the expectation and the only way to keep customers engaged. Offering online coupons, discounts and VIP advertising for upcoming sales is becoming the best way to drive customers to the brick and mortar locations. Unlike other retail stores that can close their actual store locations and still sell on line, thrift stores must have a building in order to receive and sell the donations.
The customer expectation is changing as well. Small, cluttered and smelly stores are being replaced with bright, well organized, visually appealing displays with elevator music and no smell. In the thrift industry, “pickers” are becoming regular customers. They come daily, early as soon as the store opens to find the best items. They will do online searches to make sure the price is low enough and some will even call clients to make a sale before they buy the item.
The influence of social media in the retail world is becoming more and more prevalent with each passing year, and customers are now demanding a more interactive shopping experience. Gone are the days of the shabby secondhand store, thrifters now want a polished and modern layout. Without really realizing it, thrift stores find themselves at the cutting edge of a new trend that says “thrifting is in.” Suddenly “branding” matters and thrift stores have a responsibility to create a marketable image that translates both online and in real life. This is a big ask for an industry that has existed almost as long as retail itself and one that hasn’t changed much in that time.
Slowly but surely the thrift experience is adjusting to match the rest of the retail market and stories like the link below are a good signal of things to come.