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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Thrift stores booming in bad times

Ashley Milne-Tyte Nov 19, 2008
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Kai Ryssdal: A lot of people around the country are following Sarah Palin’s lead. Nothing political here, just fashion. Amid the brouhaha over her wardrobe, last month the Alaska governor said she was going back to buying from her favorite consignment store up in Anchorage.

Sales at second-hand stores of all kinds are up about 30 percent over last year, and that’s not even counting the last couple of months of economic turmoil. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports on what looks like a recession-proof business.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: More and more shoppers are swapping the new for the gently used. Adele Myer is with the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops.

Adele Myer: It is a good way for people to save money and to also make some extra money if they have things to sell.

If they take something to a consignment store, she says, people get a percentage when the item sells. Myer says all it takes is one successful buy to get a new second-hand shopper hooked for life. Alison Houtte has been seeing a lot of those lately.

Alison Houtte: I must say every second customer that walks in is a new face.

Houtte runs vintage clothing store Hooti Couture in Brooklyn. She says sales are up 25 to 30 percent over last year. Second-hand, she says, is far from second-rate.

Houtte: People are like “Oh my god, you poor thing, you’ve gotta wear second-hand!” No honey, I’m wearing second-hand and I’m gonna walk into the cocktail party and I’m gonna be the hit of the party in my Jackie O or my Audrey Hepburn cocktail dress.

Even if you can’t afford breakfast — or anything else — at Tiffany.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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