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MONDAY IS #NationalThriftShopDay!

National Thrift Shop Day is August 17. You might think this is not exactly a red-letter day like Thanksgiving or Canada Day – but consider the idea from a perspective of the environment and the economy.

It has been estimated that more than 26 billion pounds of clothing get dumped in North American landfills every year. As much as 10% of solid waste in the landfills is made up of textiles and experts estimate that as much as 95% of that could be used or recycled instead. An Ontario study indicated that only about 15% of discarded textiles are reused or recycled.

Also: a jaw-dropping 700 gallons of water can be used to make a single new cotton T-shirt. When it comes to textile production, water is the most intensive resource used. Count the items in your closet and extrapolate the impact on water resources.

Photo: Sara Dane Photography

National Thrift Shop Day is an opportunity to think about the important role that thrift stores play in our economy and our environment.

Every year, the two RAPS Thrift Stores cycle through tons and tons of superb products that go on to find a second (or third or fourth) life in the homes of savvy shoppers. The impact this has on our landfills is incalculable.

Even worn-out or non-reusable towels and clothing items can be turned to useful rags or, as in the case with RAPS, used for various purposes at our City Shelter or Cat Sanctuary.

These statistics do not even take into account the vast array of other products donated to and sold through the RAPS Thrift Stores — bulky items like furniture as well as metal, porcelain and plastic-based objects like kitchenware, ornaments and housewares.

The positive impacts on the environment – and on individuals’ wallets – are expanding rapidly.

Fortune magazine reported in 2019 that the fashion resale market grew 21 times faster than the “conventional” retail market over the previous three years.

One in three members of Generation Z (these are the kids who came after the Millennials — try to keep up) say they buy secondhand and more than half of all consumers intend to spend more on secondhand clothing in the coming five years.

The overall market is expected to double by 2023.

Thrift shopping is also, as RAPS supporters know, a way to find bargains while also supporting causes that matter. Know your market, though. Some of the largest “thrift stores” are not charities at all, but for-profit ventures that deliver only pennies on the dollar to actual nonprofit causes.

When you shop at the RAPS Thrift Stores, you can be assured that 100% of revenues go directly into services to animals through the no-kill Regional Animal Protection Society.

The RAPS Thrift Stores are notorious for ridunkulously low prices. Some supporters — and even customers — tell us we could generate more revenue by upping the prices.

“We think we’ve got a perfect balance for the customer and our organization,” says Karen Kamachi, manager of the RAPS Thrift Stores. “Because RAPS is such a beloved community organization, members of the public and friends of RAPS choose us for their donations of gently used clothing, furniture, housewares, books and pretty much every item under the sun. The key to our success is low prices and fast turnover. Like any business or organization in Metro Vancouver, space is at a premium. We don’t have a lot of storage area, so moving product through quickly is good for business and good for logistics. People know that when they come to the RAPS Thrift Stores, they can leave with bags filled with products for just a few bucks. Going into some neighbouring thrift stores after a visit to ours can come with genuine sticker shock. A shirt at a neighbouring secondhand store may cost five, 10 or even 15 times more than a similar shirt at our store.”

That has an impact on the bottom line for families who live in one of the most economically challenging areas in the world.

“We can’t do much about the cost of housing in Metro Vancouver,” she says, “But we can help slash the family’s clothing and housewares budget, providing just about anything someone needs to start a new home or replenish kitchenware or wardrobes throughout the year —especially at the beginning of the school year when students are moving into dorms or their first apartments.”

If you haven’t been to RAPS Thrift Stores yet, you need to check them out! If you missed us while we were closed due to the pandemic, well, we’re baaaaack! (Check online for hours and protocols.) And stay tuned because we’re working on a rad new online thrift store, aiming to make our crazy prices available at the touch of your fingertips in the next couple of months!

To celebrate … we’re having a 50% off sale! (Excludes showcase items and cannot be combined with any other offer).