Sunday, May 17, 2009

The US economy is weak; concerning the greater economic forces at hand, many Americans found themselves trying to make ends meet without exceeding their financial budget. Areas of the economy have suffered; from retail to technology, citizens are purchasing less and saving more. This certainly poses a problem, especially for Americans. United States capitalism hinges itself on consumption and individuals seek to perpetuate the materialistic trend. As it seems, people are not happy with their limited capability to purchase goods.
At the same time, the situation simply seems that of a regular college student! It is not a secret that students are typically in school with less time to work, thus making them poorer. During my freshman year a group of friends and I were looking for costumes and thoroughly disappointed with the price tags at the Halloween store. Instead we ended up buying an assortment of clothing at a fraction of the price at local thrift stores in Davis.
This last week I decided to visit some of the thrift stores in Davis. There are several: The SPCA Thrift store (3rd and J). Right and Relevant (8th and L). Hidden Treasures. The SPCA uses proceeds from donations to benefit animals in need. Right and Relevant runs a business where individuals can form an account and, essentially, sell their stuff through the store.
Buying goods from these thrift stores has its advantages! One, the price is drastically reduced. I was able to buy a baseball bat for 50 cents, a bargain indeed. Clothing itself runs between one to ten dollars, ten being the most expensive. In such a tight economy, thrift store offer an alternative to corporate goods. Second it benefits a good cause. Whether it benefits animals or Davis locals, the money is not simply turned into corporate profits.
Third, and my favorite, thrift stores are green! Economics is determined by supply and demand. The more clothes we demand, the more Gap will make. However if our demand is satisfied by an alternative method, Gap will supply less. On Associated Content, the article "Want to be Eco-Friendly? Visit a Thrift Store" gives many ways to live thrifty in addition to contributing to the greater whole. Consuming used goods reduces trash in the landfills as well as the energy and resources needed to produce more goods!
However, the spend-thrift culture is addressed in our reader. In "Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global Phenomenon of the Brand", Ian Skoggard addresses brand recognition; "We even wear brand names to validate our social status and identity". It is not necessary to follow Skoggard's analysis, but it is difficult to ignore the general atmosphere of status symbol. Considering the economy, appeasing the brand name status becomes more and more difficult. The poor economy may give way to such ideals as the brand name and encourage us to live with simpler means, thrift stores certainly give us an alternative.
The next time you want to buy a pair of pants or a shirt or something. Go to the thrift store! It may take a while to find something good but you will have fun looking at all their interesting things (I.E. 50 cent baseball bats) and will definitely find a sense of satisfaction buying something at a heavily (80%+)discounted rate, not to mention adding something brand new to your life.

Evan Wong

Ian Skoggard. “Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global Phenomenon of the Brand.” Class Reader.

Associated Content.

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