Grahamstown thrift shoppers hit Facebook

Athina May

‘Click, click’ she presses F12, knowing that a minute missed could stand in the way of her getting that perfect item worth gold, for the price of brass. Glazed eyes glare into her computer as she sits, yearning for her processor to speed up. Glancing at the time, she realises she’s been staring at her computer for almost 3 hours . . . ‘just five more minutes, these bargains cannot slip through my fingers’, she thinks out loud.

A grin spreads across her face as a few freshly posted items pop up onto her Facebook screen. Better yet, no one has commented!

“Size 14. . . Not my size…Size 8. . . Too small…Size 12. A khaki skirt in size 12 for only R60?”, she beams, that’s definitely gold.

This shopping craze is the Grahamstown Second Hand Facebook page, where the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ could not be more appropriate. Considering that prices rarely exceed R100 (as instructed by the page administrators), the page provides for convenient shopping on a tight student budget.

“Dibs!” is your buying credit, earning you first privilege to buying a newly posted garment, so timing is essential. In a blink of an eye that one-of-a-kind treasure you crave could be lost, and you’ll end up lining up with hundreds of fashion starved buyers, hoping the item doesn’t fit the first buyer.

With 3135 followers, it is safe to say the second hand clothing trend, with all its appeal has taken Grahamstown by storm. Clothing of various origins: impulse buys; items bought to ‘eventually’ fit into, or items that just does not suit ones taste anymore is able to reach a diverse crowd of budget-savvy shoppers, and find a new home.

Celebrities such as Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and Nicole Kidman, to name a few, are all avid ‘thrift’ shoppers, and following in these A-list’s footsteps are millions of global citizens, throwing the idea of second hand shopping as a poor man’s trade, out with last season’s couture.

“Walking off to get an item you dibs, is like going off to claim your prize. You know it is worth so much more than you’re paying for,” says bargain shopper, Joni Lindes. It’s a win-win situation for both the seller, who is able to get rid of an impulse buy she will never wear, and the buyer, who now gets the item for a fraction of the price.

The site is filled with half-bodied selfies, advertising clothing, as it serves as a stream of revenue for many students, and follows a global trend of thrift shopping, the ‘eco- friendly’ recycling of clothing. From England to Senegal, clothing re-cycling is managed in different forms.

The second hand trend adapts to local condition. In countries such as Nigeria and Senegal, second hand clothing reflect traditional styles, and in South Africa or Zimbabwe the fashion is more western.

High-end second hand boutiques can be seen alongside charity stores in the USA and even Cape Town. However, with our few retail resources in Grahamstown and the vast mobile access to internet, the online shopping trend is just the fit for Grahamstown.

“It literally took about 10 minutes to start the page” says Georgia Kay, co-owner of the Second hand Grahamstown Facebook group. “I made the group on my account, and sent [business partner] Anjuli the link… people started adding their friends and the group just grew and grew”.

Georgia explains that the popularity of the page was unforeseen and was also unexpectedly promoted through an impolite comment published about the page on the ‘Rhodes Confessions’ student platform. “News spreads pretty fast in this town!”

“[Second hand clothes] excites me because of the mysterious histories behind them. Also, I find that thrift shopping provides me with cheap clothes that have an edge to them” Says Georgia, describing her love for re-cycled clothing. “When I walk out of my house in the morning I want to look unique but I also want to be able to make references to fashion from previous decades at an affordable price.”

Although some might share a distaste for buying clothing ‘off the rack’, there is definitely a place for clothes-recycling in Grahamstown. Whether it be a new Friday night outfit in your closet, or some extra cash to spend on the weekend, everyone’s a winner when it comes to thrift shopping.

Thrift shopping tips

Heading into a second hand store, packed with rails of unorganized clothing, can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re not accustomed to the idea of hunting ‘treasured items’, or ‘clothing’ as a fashionista might say. So here are a few tips to help you find that gold, and make the whole experience of thrift shopping that much enjoyable.

  • The thrill of finding good quality clothing can be exhilarating and you might want to grab hold of everything. Remember the point of thrift shopping is to save money, so draw up a list before hand of items you need the most.
  • Browse the online catalogues of high fashion brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Top shop, to get an idea of what looks are trending, then keep an eye out for similar finds
  • Decide beforehand how much money you’re willing to spend, and stick to that budget.
  • Many thrift stores such as St Luke’s usually do not have fitting rooms. Wearing a pair of leggings and a tight vest will allow you to discreetly fit on items in the aisle.
  • Before heading to the till, take a ‘time out’ to evaluate your goods based on your first reactions. If it’s a No, put it back on the rack. If it’s a ‘maybe’, it’s probably a keeper.
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