Thrift store shopping moving online

Shopping for second-hand clothing and home décor used to mean a trip to the local thrift store, but now, that highly sought-after vintage graphic t-shirt is only a click away.

“You would assume that people would like to just come in and shop thrift in-store, but we realized that there was a trend – things were changing in the thrift industry,” Robin Searle, Kildonan MCC Thrift Shop’s Chief Operations Officer, told CTV News Thursday.

Kildonan MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) Thrift Shop originally opened in 1972 and moved to its current location on Chalmers Avenue in 2011.

In 2019, Searle said they started exploring e-commerce options to keep up in the evolving industry.

“One of our goals is always ‘How can we continuously repurpose, recycle, rejuvenate our donations?’”

Sweaters and other clothes are on display at Kildonan MCC Thrift Shop. Feb. 23, 2023. (Source: Daniel Halmarson/CTV News)

Kildonan MCC launched Love to Thrift in December 2020. The online shop features hand-selected items such as athleisure wear, vintage jeans, and one-of-a-kind pieces.

Joanna Przytula, Kildonan MCC Thrift Shop’s social media and e-commerce coordinator, said the items are curated based on current and popular social media trends.

“We are targeting the younger generation, for sure, but also, we want to make a statement that all age groups can find something online,” Przytula told CTV News.

Searle said Love to Thrift has seen a sales increase of 30 per cent year-over-year since its launch.

“And we’re making sure we’re reusing the items people are donating for us,” Searle said.

The emphasis on environmental impact and sustainable clothing was a key reason behind the online store. Przytula said consumers are steering away from ‘fast fashion’ brands because of poor conditions and wages for workers, poor quality of clothing, and a desire to be more environmentally conscious.

Joanna Przytula flips through jeans and other clothes at Kildonan MCC Thrift Shop. Feb. 23, 2023. (Source: Daniel Halmarson/CTV News)

“I think they want to make a statement that they don’t support fast fashion and they are taking pride in finding second-hand items,” Przytula said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Sierra Schultz, who owns and operates Wanted & Wild Co., a vintage clothing and home décor brand.

“Not only is [thrifting] sustainable, you’re getting so much more for your money and something unique that no one else is going to have,” Schultz told CTV News.

Schultz started Wanted & Wild Co. during the pandemic. She scours estate sales, auctions, and stores like Kildonan MCC for home décor and vintage clothing.

“I saw a couple of resellers doing it on Instagram and I was like, ‘oh, I feel like I could do this.’ Now the reseller community is booming. There are hundreds of us in Winnipeg.”

And while she does sell some of her products at a shop on Main Street, most of her sales are online.

It’s a sign the shift in thrifting is here to stay.

“I think it’s a sustainable way of doing it and it’s also more accessible for people who can’t get out, and we saw that a lot during the pandemic.”

Searle said while Kildonan MCC is embracing the changes in how they do business, she believes there will always be a demand for in-person shopping.

“I think we are balancing the best of both worlds. Bricks and mortar and e-commerce.”