They looked like any old pair of boots, sitting all by their lonesome on the dingy thrift shop shelf: brown, sturdy, hand-bonded leather, a little worn and yet still in excellent condition. But when Maggie Parsons spotted them on a rainy fall day in Springfield, Missouri, she instantly knew they were worth more than the $12 tag stamped on the leather.
“I cleaned them up a little bit and I did some research. I actually found a vintage ad for them. They were from the 70s, they were like 43-or-something year old boots, and they looked great,” Parsons said.
She sold the Frye Leather Boots at a $50 profit on eBay and her newfound hobby took shape. She thought, “If I could find these, how many other things can I find? What else is hidden away in shops like these?”
Parsons is just one of millions of people participating in thrift shopping or “thrifting.”
Thrifting is shopping in a store that is comprised of mostly donated goods and often gives a portion of their proceeds to charity. Examples include The Salvation Army and Goodwill, and antique shops are often included in this category.
According to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, the multi-billion dollar industry has consistently risen seven percent in the last two years alone. This year’s revenue totals $14 billion, according to the Thrift Stores in the US Industry Mark Research Report from this year.
It’s popular, especially among college students, and for Parsons it’s become “a side hustle.” After finding the pair of Frye Boots and selling them at a profit, Parsons spent her summer thrifting and selling.
“I like to shop. It’s something I enjoy and I see things on sale that are dirt cheap, but maybe it’s not my style. Or it’s not my size. . . It’s not for me but someone else would really like this, so that’s where it really kind of started building,” Parsons said.
She finds on-trend brands, like Lululemon and Free People, buys them for the thrift store price and sells them for what they are worth on sites like eBay. Her favorite find so far was a brand new Versace teacup; she bought it for $34 and sold it for over
twice as much.
“I’m a college student and my opinion–if you’re a college student without a side hustle then are you really living your best life? I’m all about the side hustle,” Parsons said.
After a few months of thrifting, she established her brand and audience.
“If you want it to be a side hustle, you have to learn how to skim. If you’re taking every single object, piece by piece–thrift stores are huge. I would say learn what market you’re wanting to look for, what style you’re wanting to cater to and really only search for those kind of pieces,” Parsons said.
Part of the key is researching the items to make sure they aren’t fake and are worth their resale value. Parsons suggests a quick scroll through eBay or Google if she feels on the fence about findings. For most though, thrifting is a fun hobby, an extension of shopping and an option for spending time with friends.
Even so, Parsons has tips for leisure thrifting rather than a money-grind.
“Shop smart; go on the half-off days. We’re all college students, and we gotta ball on a budget. Have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously,” Parsons said.
Tulsa is full of thrift stores. There are two Salvation Army locations on Garnett, one on 71st and another on 31st. Go on a Wednesday for 50 percent off on all clothing.
Other Tulsa stores that often hold good thrift finds are Goodwill and Quality Thrift Store. Scan the aisles for the diamond in the rough, the ballin’-on-a-budget find, the someone-else’s-trash because it could be your treasure.