Thrift shops and sustainable fashion outlets thrive during the pandemic

Rocket a Go Go sells retro clothing, rockabilly and punk in Tempe “We process them for a week before we put the items on the shelves so that everything can be properly sanitized,”RoseAna Dodge is co-owner. (Photo by Sofia Fuentes/Cronkite News

Rocket a Go-Go was shut down last spring, but it reopened in April under COVID-19 safety protocols. (Photo by Sofia Fuentes/Cronkite News

The feared downturn in customers didn’t happen, Rocket a Go-Go co-owner RoseAna Dodge says. “We were actually able to expand the store over the summer, and it’s gone over extremely well.”(Photo by Sofia Fuentes/Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Being an environmentally friendly consumer means more than recycling paper and avoiding plastic. For those who prefer not to eat fast fashion – cheap, trendy items that often come from sweatshops – thrift and resale/trade shops have offered a smart way to shop.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the operation of these stores, but Goodwill and smaller shops have been regaining ground in recent months. According to the Association of Resale Professionals’ August 2020 report, 16%-18% of Americans indicated that they would shop in a thrift store at one point during the year. This is the largest trade group for resellers. Secondhand goods were also more popular due to economic pressures and job losses caused by the pandemic.

More than 100 Goodwill stores in central and northern Arizona were forced to close their doors last year when COVID-19 shut down large parts of the economy. However, spokesperson Courtney Nelson stated that 70% of those workers have been hired back.

“We are a nonprofit organization in addition to a thrift store, so the revenue directly from our stores goes to helping people here in the community,”Nelson said.

Goodwill states that it provided no-cost education services, training, and career development for 24,000 people from central Arizona in 2020.

“Our services are critical during this pandemic,”She said. “There’s a huge need in our community for people who either need to get back to work or need additional resources, so there’s a huge need for the community to provide those material resources.”

Goodwill had to close its Arizona stores at the start of the pandemic in March. It waited to reopen until safety was restored and could hire additional cleaners.

Rocket a Go-Go in Tempe is a women-owned resale clothes store. It is now in its ninth year. (Photos by Sofia Fuentes/Cronkite News)

“In early April, we were deemed an essential business by the state and then decided to begin taking touchless donations,”Nelson stated that the stores were reopened safely with masked employees, regular disinfection and safety inspections.

Goodwill stores weren’t the only thrift shops to make changes during this unprecedented time. Rocket a Go-Go thrift store in Tempe was also able to adapt to the pandemic, and has seen a significant increase in sales.

Over the past nine years, Rocket a Go-Go has offered shoppers retro-grunge clothing from the 1950s to the ’90s. RoseAna Dodge, the company’s owner, realized that providing customers confidence in used clothing during a pandemic was not possible without taking precautions.

“We closed for the standard amount of time, and we weren’t taking (clothing) donations then,”She said. “But we started taking them again once we reopened, and we process them for a week before we put the items on the shelves so that everything can be properly sanitized.”

Dodge was afraid that customers would not come to the pandemic. However, as time went by, business grew.

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“We were actually able to expand the store over the summer, and it’s gone over extremely well,”She said. “Word of mouth has been crazy over the course of this pandemic. We’ve had so many people say they came in because they heard about us from a friend, it’s amazing.”

She stated that holiday season was a busy time for business. Most people choose to go on vacation. “treat themselves.”

“A lot of people were coming in looking to purchase items for themselves,”Dodge stated. “Since so many individuals weren’t planning on seeing their families, they came in and decided to gift themselves with items from our shelves.”

A decent amount of the population prefers to shop at thrift and second-hand shops, but there are still some consumers who prefer to buy from fast stores. fashion companies.

Goodwill has been able adapt quickly to this increase in demand for sustainable shopping methods.

“People continue to drop their things off and we’re able to get it cleaned and processed and on our shelves within the week,”Nelson said. “As long as people continue to contribute, we can still provide all of our services that are very much needed during this time.”

(Video by Sofia Fuentes/Cronkite News

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