Good Monday morning to you and Happy National Thrift Store Day! And to celebrate, today I’m proposing that we switch from shopping at TJX stores (that’s Marshalls, Winners here in Canada, T.J. Maxx in the US and T.K. Maxx in the UK) to shopping at Savers, Value Village, Village des Valeurs in Quebec or Unique Thrift Stores.

This Conscious Fashion Swap is for the treasure hunters, so if you love the thrill of a once-in-a-lifetime designer find, read on!

Switch TJX

I used to love going into Winners and Marshalls. The treasure-hunting aspect of the shopping really appealed to me, as did — let’s face it — the off-priced fashions that were often from designer labels and always on trend.

But over this spring and summer, my thinking about TJX stores has changed. TJX stores are the mercenaries of the fashion industry. When weather or a dock workers’ strike delays a shipment of product to higher end department stores, TJX will be there to reap the benefit. And in the past, a large part of what TJX stores sold were factory seconds. I can remember early in the millennium when a trip to Winners yielded a cardigan with a button missing or jeans with a thread pull.

But since then, things have changed. Both off-price department stores such as T.J. Maxx as well as outlet stores had heeded the siren call of the discount brand shopper (such as I was) and have changed their model. Rather than stocking last season’s Ralph Lauren sweaters that didn’t move at higher prices, or ones that were not deemed acceptable for the floor of Nordstrom, off-price and outlet stores stock items that look identical to their higher-priced versions, but were made specifically for the outlet shopper. And that means one thing: cheaper fabrics, shorter life of the fabric, and inevitably slave labour to create them.

I don’t know about you, but for me this is unacceptable.

For Savers

If you do enjoy hunting for treasures as much as I do, and you are as uncompromising about high quality and low price as I am, thrift stores are an amazing alternative. And while there are numerous thrift and charity shops as one-offs or as chains that are non-profit and support specific religious or charitable causes, for this swap I choose the biggest for-profit thrift chain, Savers.

In Canada, Savers is exclusively called Value Village and is the highest-priced thrift store there is. But when you walk into one of its locations, there are certain very striking similarities to TJX stores. Value Village sells clothing, books, toys, home decor and furniture for a fraction of the price of department stores. And the departments are arranged much like in a Winners, with merchandise rearranged seasonally to highlight current trends and popular colours. Have you ever been in a Value Village around halloween? Or Christmas? You’ll know that in recent years, they’ve capitalized on shoppers who’ve made the chain the destination for cheap costumes and tacky Christmas sweaters.

And one look at the Canadian prices belies their origin as a privately-held, for-profit company. Designer finds are priced accordingly, with fashion items selling for upwards of $50. At a thrift store!

I have heard that this is different in the US — where Savers is actually more affordable than Goodwill. Backwards! 😛

Thrift Store Day!

Despite all this, shopping at thrift stores like Value Village is still the best alternative to supporting outlet and off-price department stores that perpetuate the system of sweat shops. And buying thrift a way to avoid adding to the trash and heavy pollution associated with creating new garments.

And though Value Village prices can be steep when it comes to thrift shops, they do have a silver lining: 50% off sale days!

One of those sales days is today, in celebration of National Thrift Shop Day! So if you live in Canada and are a treasure hunter, today is a great day to give Value Village a try.

And if you’re a Supersaver member like me, you probably know that every 50% sale day at Value Village also includes a presale day for Supersavers. That was yesterday and you can bet I shopped it:

Value Village Haul National Thrift Shop Day

 

Value Village Haul National Thrift Shop Day
(Just a preview!)

The thing that I love most about thrift shopping is the creativity it can evoke. The possibilities for wardrobe enhancement are endless. As long as you have patience, a good eye, or even a list of thrift tips, you can find pieces that are on-trend for the current season, are legit vintage, or are made of the highest quality materials.

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