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Trash or Treasure? A Review of Thrift Stores in the DMV

Are you new to the DMV and AU? Are you curious about which thrift stores to go to? You’re in the right place. There are many thrift stores in the DMV, but in this article, I will be reviewing three thrift stores; Planet Aid, the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center and the Georgetown Flea. Planet Aid and the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center are close in proximity so as a car-less college student, you will be able to walk from one destination to the other. Taking public transportation also makes it a lot easier to commute to the stores. 

The history of thrifting originates from people wanting to raise funds for various establishments; “the concept of thrift dates back to the early 19th century when charities and religious organizations would collect second-hand clothing and sell them to raise funds for their causes” (Goodfair 2023). The urgency and need for thrifting that was once present in the early 19th century lost its popularity as big retail stores gained popularity. It started to become popular again during the COVID-19 pandemic onTikTok, and many people began to see the value as social media influencers promoted second-hand fashion to find unique pieces and express their style.

 In our current digital age, the rise of thrifting has become prominent through the use of apps such as Depop. Many thrifters thrift instead of utilizing “fast fashion,” which is essentially the mass production of cheap products. The speed of production allows retailers to sell a large quantity of their products. It commonly requires inexpensive labor which allows the retailer to meet consumer speed of purchase (Rauturier 2023). Fast fashion has a negative impact on the environment by creating microplastics and polluting the ocean. Therefore the rise of thrifting culture and secondhand fashion will ultimately benefit the environment in many aspects. 

I first went to Planet Aid, a non-profit organization that supports reducing waste and protecting the environment by using a recycling program. As I entered Planet Aid, I noticed the dark lighting and setting that it had. Entering the store, I went into a front area offering a wide variety of Halloween costumes. The store was overwhelmingly large. They had an amazing selection to choose from such as jackets, shoes (that are in good condition for both men and women), heels, shirts, high-end purses, etc. and they were in good quality. Prices were affordable (less than $10 for many items), but they did have items with prices that ranged from $20-$30. I would definitely have to visit again to get a good look at everything the store has to offer. 

The Salvation Army is a family store that raises money for rehabilitation programs by selling second-hand items such as clothes, shoes, toys, and more. The store had homey

vibes and was very different from Planet Aid, a good comparison would be Goodwill, in terms of store lighting and general layout. I entered through the men’s section and realized that the women's and men’s sections are very separate. They didn’t offer as many accessories as they did clothes. The men’s section had a very large selection of graphic and plain t-shirts as well as sweatshirts, jackets, and sweaters although they were around $15 each but in good condition. The women's section was more limited than the men’s but there was a good selection. Ranging from dresses, sweaters, workout clothes, tracksuits, etc. I spent a total of $21 on a few shirts and a vest. I do recommend it. 

The Georgetown Flea is located in the parking lot of Hardy Middle School across from Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue. It has been around for 51 years, and they have vendors from many areas that sell political and historical memorabilia and collectibles, furniture, clothes, and more. The Georgetown flea is an experience that everyone in DC should experience. It has a ton of sellers and there is something for everyone who goes. There are frequently pop shops that appear at the flea market, along with Depop shops. There is a good selection of unique vintage, old pieces but most of the items there are pricey items which is why bartering culture is big at the flea, many sellers will barter with you. The Georgetown flea had good vibes overall; it had good music and good variety ranging from shoes, jewelry, jackets, you name it. It’s a fun thing to do on Sunday with friends or alone. 

Based on what I have discussed here, I hope you take time to visit these locations and other thrift stores beyond the three I mentioned. Thrifting is not only a fun activity to do but it is environmentally friendly and will allow you to take part in  reducing waste and many other environmental issues that take place with fast fashion production. With easy access to so many thrift stores in the DMV, thrifting is an activity made easier for you.

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