The history of thrift stores

Clothes have existed for as long as humans can remember. Back in the day, clothing was hand made and worn until it was no longer wearable.

 If a pair of pants got a hole, they were patched and worn again. Clothing was not tossed out as fast as it is today.  Studies have found that the average American throws out 82 pounds of textile waste every year. In the United States, that would be 11 million tons of textile waste produced every year. 

Have you ever wondered about the history of thrift stores and how they became so popular? Before you start searching thrift near me on your phone, our team wants to share how thrift stores started. 


Thrift Stores are typically shops that raise money for charities and nonprofit organizations. These kinds of stores depend on donations from people around their communities. People can make  donations at drop-off locations around a city.

 Some thrift stores, like Thrift World, also provide at-home pick-up. They usually accept donations like clothing, furniture, shoes, toys, electronics, home decor, etc. 

People tend to believe that resale shops and thrift stores are the same things. However, they are different. Resale shops are stores that sell merchandise that has been bought from individuals and resold. As stated above, thrift stores receive their merchandise from donors. 


Back in the day, clothing was not as disposable because it was expensive. Things began to change with the start of the Industrial Revolution. Clothing began to be produced in masses and at affordable prices. People would buy new clothes more often and tossed their old clothing. 

Also, city populations began to grow during this time. Living spaces were getting smaller, thus it caused more people to toss things out. However, people still had a stigma that wearing someone else's clothes was a sign of a lack of money. 

Things began to change when Christian ministries started to collect items to sell to try to fund programs. It also helped that Americans during this time started to give more to charities. Throughout the years, thrift stores began to pop up, hire disabled people and even offer service operations. 


In today's age, thrifting has not changed and continues to rise in popularity. People still continue to donate their unused goods to local thrift stores to help nonprofit organizations, communities and even help save the planet. 

Today's generations, like Gen Z and Millennials, are interested in helping the environment and reducing waste. Studies have found that 77 percent of Millennials prefer to buy clothing that helps the environment. 

Technology is also transforming the thrifting industry. Thrift stores are now able to sell their products to online shops and even through social media like Facebook. This gives thrifting customers the convenience of shopping wherever and getting it delivered to their doorstep. 


Choose Thrift World! We have four store locations in Omaha and one in Independence, MO. Our stores are open seven days a week and always have a sale! We are also always looking for clothing, furniture and home good donations. Here is a list of donation drop-off locations or call for a free at-home pick-up. 

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