Instagram: Your New Favorite Thrift Store
By: Sarah Hardy
Who doesn’t love a good thrift? The rush of heading to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or your favorite local thrift store in anticipation that you might find your new favorite outfit. For college students, thrift stores offer affordable and stylish clothing at a college-friendly cost. However, not every student has the time to go out and rummage through racks and racks of clothing. This is where Instagram comes into play. Instagram is an international social media platform where, according to Statista, 82% of college students use. Perhaps you’ve seen your friends making separate pages to sell their clothing. Pages like these are the gold mine to online thrifting, but the types of pages outside of personal closets are the ones that I want to introduce you to.
If you search business pages on Instagram, your first step is to search for “Apparel and Clothing” pages or just start typing “thrift” into your search bar. It’s likely that there will automatically be some pages that pop up local to your area. There is a huge community of business thrifting pages on Instagram, and they all operate with similar terms. Many of these pages are run by college students just like us who go thrifting in their towns and then post their haul on the Instagram page. I’ve experienced two different ways of purchasing an item. Most pages operate on a bidding system. The seller posts a minimum bid along with pictures of the item and then people who are interested in the item must increase each bid by $1. After 24 hours, the top bidder will get the item. Every so often there will also be the acronym NWT on a post. This means “new with tags” and the item still has the original retailer’s tag on it. If there is an item that you REALLY want, sellers often set a BIN (Buy it Now) price. Whoever comments BIN will automatically get the item and all bids are off. If there are items that have been on the page for a long time, sellers are almost always open to taking offers and making bundles of items for less. On the other hand, some pages simply post a set price for their clothing and whoever messages the page first will get the item. There are pros and cons to each of these methods. Bids allow multiple people to show interest in an item, and you can make multiple bids and drop out if you believe the price is too high. With set pricing, you might rule out an item because of the price but you could also snag an item because you saw it first.
Here’s a tip: When you start looking for pages, don’t follow every page that you find. This really clogs your feed and, quite frankly, makes you want to spend a LOT of money. Take your time to look through the current inventory and see if it’s your style, peek through the highlights which usually include proof of delivery and reviews from customers, and at most follow 2-3 pages to start. All the clothes I have bought from Instagram have come from 3 different accounts, so it’s very important to find accounts that match your clothing style and are (obviously) reasonable for a college student budget. For reference, here are just a few great things I’ve gotten off of these pages: A semi-formal dress for $15, an Eddie Bauer jean jacket for $12, and a Lululemon tank top for $12. It can be really challenging depending on your location to find name brand items at your local thrift store, and often these thrifters specifically seek out brands they know students are looking for.
I would be lying if I didn’t say some of the items weren’t cheap. Depending on the brand and item, the bids can go pretty high (sometimes up to $40) but don’t let that scare you off! In fact, if you have a passion for thrifting this might be your new gig and a great way to earn some extra cash. If you’re interested in trying to start up a page, message other pages that you have looked at and they will often promote you in their stories! While I still encourage you to go out into your community and support local thrift stores and businesses, this is a safe and contact-free way to shop for clothes at discounted prices. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your phone (I know you have it) and you might just find your next favorite piece of clothing.