I thrift, therefore I am

"When I was younger", my mum told me recently, "there were no charity shops nearby and yard sales did not exist. It was a shame because I did not have much money and I would have loved searching for nice second-hand clothes."

My mum grew up in 60s France, and even though the economic crisis was not on the front page every day, low-income families were quite numerous. 

"Anyway", she said, "in the past, if you happened to buy second-hand you were looked down on. Even buying something reduced was seen as shameful."

Nowadays things couldn't be different; second-hand shopping is very trendy. If you don't believe me, just look at all the websites offering to sell your old stuff or people offering to buy it: Etsy, Secondhand, or Leboncoin (a French website), to name just a few. Now people boast about the great deals they've made on such websites.

As for garage sales, also known as yard sales, patio sales, rummage sales, tag sales, lawn sales, attic sales, moving sales, garbage sales, thrift sales, or junk sales, they have exploded. In the US it’s become part of their culture. There are websites where you can view a list of all the forthcoming sales in your area (e.g : http://www.yardsalesearch.com/).

People sell their stuff to clear their house, de-cluttering, and make a bit of extra money – usually prices are very low and any buyers can get a good bargain, and even haggle. And believe it or not some items are new or like new.

In addition to the low prices, buying second-hand is a way to connect with people again, in a society that has become a bit too individualistic and sometimes, distrustful. When you sell an item face to face you can end up having a long, pleasant conversation with the person you make the transaction with. It’s not only about trade, it’s also about creating a social link.

Today, my mum’s wardrobe is full of beautiful, original almost new clothes that she's bought second-hand at a low price. When colleagues compliment her sometimes she tells them the price of her whole outfit, which is often less than 10 euros! They don’t believe their eyes, and they envy her.

About the author: Ludivine Coirier, is a Frenchie in love with the English language. She's been studying English since the age of 8 and has been an active member of the Learn English Network since 2005.
She's interested in art, psychology and social matters: decrypting the media, escaping the pitfalls of advertising, fighting prejudice and, more generally, in thinking with her own brain.