Chestertown’s thrifting scene gives back to its residents and the environment

By Mikayla Silcox

Elm Staff Writer

Over the past decade, there is a rise in young people opting for thrift stores over mass produced chain stores. Buying old clothes is not just a cheap and sustainable practice, but a trendy one.

According to NPR, as of June 2021, the second hand clothing market, which includes thrift outlets, vintage stores, and online second hand retailers using apps like Depop and ThreadUp, is a billion dollar industry.

Even in the quaint Chestertown, there are multiple thrift stores that bring the community together by connecting used pieces with new owners. 

Karen Dionisio owns Women in Need Inc., a thrift store located on Philosopher’s Terrace in Chestertown. Her business demonstrates the different benefits of thrifting that supersede the idea of recycling.

Dionisio opened her non-profit organization in 1997 after witnessing a woman in need, and she continues to reflect kindness by giving back to her community.

“It’s a shame that some people don’t see the value of [second hand buying], thrift stores support the community. They give people an opportunity to donate their things and that money goes right back into it; it’s its own entity for helping the community,” Dionisio said.

Additional thrift stores in Chestertown include Nearly New Shop on High Street, Empty Hangers on Cross Street, and Hidden Treasures on Washington Avenue.

Even if people do not thrift themselves, they can contribute to overseeing its benefits by donating their old belongings back to thrift stores.

Thrifting is not just an act of community, however; the practice allows consumers to develop a unique change in their own wardrobe.

By buying second hand, people can develop their own sense of style without contributing to the cycle of fast fashion. Those who buy from thrift stores have the opportunity to explore an array of styles from different eras and piece it together to develop a closet that reflects them.

“I think it is so cool to see so many young people taking an interest in fashion and developing their own personality and style,” freshman McKenna Smith said.

Also, there is less stress when you do not have to spend a fortune on new clothes.

“I can buy seven pieces for the price of one in a normal store. There are really only advantages to shopping thrifty,” freshman Faith Poulton said.

According to the New York Times, some suggest that the normalization of thrifting spurred by Generation Z helps to stop stigma against those who cannot afford to shop at stores whose prices are rapidly increasing with inflation.

Furthermore, young people are growing aware of the environmental impact of fast fashion and looking into thrifting.

“I think it’s so important that people are educating themselves and others and thinking about where they buy their clothes and how their clothes are made,” Smith said. 

According to a study conducted by the Princeton Student Climate Initiative, the carbon emissions generated by the fast fashion industry outnumber that of the maritime and international flight industries combined.

There are an overwhelming amount of clothes in circulation, and through thrifting, people can recycle pieces instead of sending them to landfills.

As Gen Z’s political awareness continues to shift consumer patterns, the second hand industry will continue to thrive, creating new ways of consciously consuming fashion and developing personal style.

To get involved with Women in Need Inc., call (410) 778-5999 to schedule a donation. For a list of acceptable items to donate, check their website’s homepage for further information.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo caption: Shoppers can come across a wealth of unique clothing pieces by browsing the racks of their local second hand store.

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