Financial, environmental benefits make shopping second-hand top choice among college students

By: Emily Thomson

Some Red River College Polytechnic students are choosing to shop at thrift or consignment stores, favouring them over traditional retail stores. Students like Nicole Baltazar say dressing well doesn’t need to break the bank or harm the environment.

Shopping second-hand has become increasingly popular among students, especially because of its sustainability. 

Baltazar, a Culinary Arts student at RRC Polytech, said she shops almost exclusively at thrift stores.

“Thrift shopping is a go-to,” she said, “My budget is tight, I can’t buy brand new anymore as a student.”

At 217 McDermot Avenue, consignment boutique Shop Take Care is within walking distance of RRC Polytech’s Exchange District Campus./EMILY THOMSON

While there are many large-scale thrift stores in Winnipeg, Shop Take Care is a locally owned consignment boutique located at 217 McDermot Ave., steps away from RRC Polytech’s Exchange District Campus.

The store’s owner, Jillian Zdunich, noticed a definite increase in shopping second-hand in recent years. 

“As folks become more aware of the environmental dangers and consequences of fast fashion, there will be a continuing trend towards sustainability.”

After opening the location on McDermot, second to its flagship on Osborne St., Zdunich said it’s been encouraging to see people of all ages discovering consignment.

As thrift and consignment shopping has gained popularity, some fast fashion retailers have jumped on the bandwagon. H&M recently rolled out their RE:WEAR program, where shoppers can buy or sell pre-loved fashions from any brand. 

H&M’s RE:WEAR program allows sellers to list items for free, with a 20 per cent bonus offered if they choose to collect their earnings on an H&M gift card.

Similar consignment platforms such as Poshmark and Depop have been in practice for years, simplifying the consignment process and allowing users worldwide to browse each other’s closets from an online platform.

For students who enjoy sporting luxury accessories, thrift and consignment stores often carry designer items at much lower prices.

RRC Polytech Culinary Arts student Marc Normand said he sees designer handbags on a regular basis at his usual thrift store.

“I’ve found Michael Kors bags, even Louis Vuitton,” he said. “They were real, which was surprising, and were marked at under $70.”

Baltazar said she finds pricey Levi’s denim in thrift stores at affordable prices.

“That’s what motivates me,” she said. “The price, the quality, and the brand names you can find.”

Normand’s thrifted finds – which he said make up two-thirds of his wardrobe – are the result of a little patience, and an eye for a good deal.

“You just have to look, really,” he said. “I’d rather take the time to look and find something good, than spend more on something at a regular store.”