Thrifting Across Borders


A thrift shop is a store that sells used items, such as clothing, furniture, and other goods, typically at lower prices than new products. Celebrated on August 17th, Thrift Shop Day emphasises the importance of such stores.

According to research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, prolonging the typical lifespan of clothing by an additional nine months could lead to a reduction of approximately 20 to 30 percent in carbon, water, and waste footprints.

Purchasing from thrift shops helps consumers keep clothing in circulation, reducing wastage and preventing items from ending up in landfills. This promotes a more sustainable approach to fashion and consumption.

Thrifting is a worldwide activity that goes beyond borders and cultures. Every nation adds its own touch, creating a diverse tapestry of second-hand shopping experiences. A thrift shop, depending on the region, carries diverse names reflecting local culture:


In the USA, a 'thrift store' is a retail establishment where second-hand or used items are sold at lower prices than what you would typically find in traditional retail stores. Thrift stores often operate as a way to repurpose items. Many thrift stores support charitable causes or non-profit organisations by using the proceeds from sales to fund their activities or initiatives.


Goodwill is a nonprofit organisation that provides job training, employment placement, and other community-based services to people facing barriers to work. Goodwill operates over 3,000 thrift stores in the US and Canada, as well as online platforms, where they sell donated clothes, furniture, electronics, and more. The revenue from the sales helps fund Goodwill’s programs and services for millions of people each year.

(Image credit: Goodwill Industries)


A "charity shop" in the UK is similar in concept to a "thrift store" in the USA. Both types of stores sell second-hand or used items, and often the proceeds from the sales are used to support charitable causes or community initiatives.


The Salvation Army is a Christian church and charity that provides various social services to people in need. It operates over 1,000 thrift stores in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. The Salvation Army is widely recognised for its network of thrift stores/charity shops, which raise funds for its rehabilitation programs by selling donated used items such as clothing, housewares, and toys.

(Image Credit: The Salvation Army)


An 'op shop' is a shortened term for 'opportunity shop.' It refers to a thrift store where people can purchase second-hand or used items. Op shops are popular in countries like Australia and New Zealand, and they play a role in reusing items while also supporting social and environmental goals.


Vinnies Op Shops in Australia provide a platform for individuals to both donate and purchase quality second-hand items. Every dollar spent is reinvested into the local community, assisting those facing homelessness. Vinnies takes pride in its environmental and social impact. By donating to or shopping at Vinnies, consumers not only reduce the environmental toll of producing and distributing new items, thus minimising landfill use and decreasing demand, but they also support those in challenging circumstances by strengthening the second-hand economy.

(Image credit: Vinnies Op Shop - St Vincent De Paul)


In Nigeria, thrift shops are commonly referred to as "Okirika" or "Bend Down Boutique." These terms creatively describe a thrift store or second-hand stalls that provide a unique shopping experience. The term "bend down" is associated with the action of physically bending down to search through items.

(Image credit: Bend Down Boutique/Okirika from Nigeria)
Thrift shopping terms vary across regions, reflecting distinct cultural and linguistic nuances. Regardless of the terminology, each emphasises the core values of reusing, community support, and promoting sustainable consumption.

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