Second-hand shopping thrives in Wabash

By Mandy Underwood

Shopping second hand has become a major trend in recent years due to vintage hunters and resellers storming local thrift stores.

The benefits of shopping second hand do not end with cool finds or being able to flip items online for profit. Thrifting helps to stall the fast fashion industries, which has positive impacts socially, environmentally, and economically.

“Fast Fashion” is the concept of clothes being provided quickly and as cheaply as possible to consumers.

Economically, for example, the world GDP is expected to increase 400 percent by 2050, which means a higher demand for clothing.

Environmentally, making clothing within the cycle of fast fashion, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt. That is enough drinking water for one person for 2 1/2 years.

Socially, according to nonprofit Remake, primarily female garment workers in Bangladesh make around $96 a month, which is only about a fourth of what the government’s wage board suggest is required to live a “decent life with basic facilities.”

A report from the US Department of Labor in 2018 also showed evidence of forced child labor in the fashion industries of Bangladesh, Argentina, China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, and other countries.

“With the fashion industry becoming one of the most wasteful industries in the world with fast fashion, shopping second hand is such a great solution in preventing textile waste, reducing energy and resources. Over 2,000 gallons of water go into making your favorite pair of jeans so browsing a thrift store or consignment shop to find a pair of jeans for a fraction of the price and helping the environment is definitely a win-win. It feels so rewarding to own a business that is helping reduce our carbon footprint and also give so much value to our community,” said Darcy Vail, owner of Bellazo, a second-hand store in downtown Wabash.

This problem seems bigger than one single person, and can feel overwhelming, but there are ways to make a difference and put the clothing industry on a path to more sustainable and ethical production, even in Wabash.

By lessening the demand of clothing per person, less will be made, which in turn decrease the negative impacts of fast fashion. In order to do that, the best option is to start buying your clothing second hand, or, if online shopping is preferred, using services such as Rent The Runway or a company similar.

Wabash has many opportunities to shop second hand including Bellazo, The Salvation Army, Jack in the Box, and Lighthouse Missions Thrift Store.

Lighthouse Mission offers clothing and household items at a very cheap price.

“People say we have the cheapest prices in town,” Director Jenny Ritzema told The Paper. “Plus we have many half-off days, so people will come in and get a shirt that is regularly two dollars for one.”

The giving spirit of Lighthouse Mission doesn’t stop with low prices.

ARC of Wabash County sends people to volunteer at the store, which in turn helps them develop job skills.

Lighthouse Mission also serves many people a week who are in need by providing them with free clothing and hygiene items to help them get back on their feet. These people range from homeless persons, to mothers and children trying to escape domestic violence situations.

The Lighthouse Mission accepts donations from the back of their store building. Officials also encourage people to volunteer.

“The more hands available, the better,” said Ritzema.

The Lighthouse Mission Thrift Store is located on Wabash Street near Mi Pueblos, and is open Monday from 9-5:30, and Tuesday through Saturday from 9-4, and closed Sunday.

Salvation Army Manager Rebecca Wedding said her store also is trying to make a difference.

The mission of the Salvation Army is to help men who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitate and get back to living their best lives, she said.

“Not only are you re-selling something and getting a second or third use out of it, so not only are you being eco-friendly, but you’re also helping someone in need,” said Wedding of the multifaceted benefit of shopping second hand.

Salvation Army is located in the Wabash Crossing shopping center off of Cass Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6, and closed Sundays.

Jack in the Box is also available for thrifting in Wabash. Jack in The Box has served Wabash County for more than 30 years with a focus on children’s clothing, toys, and furniture.

Jack in the Box is a consignment shop, with a section of new products as well. It carries mostly kid’s clothing, but sizes range from preemie clothing to adult 2XL clothing.

It is located on Dale Drive and is open Monday through Friday from 10-6, and Saturday from 9-4, and closed Sunday.
For people who want to contribute to the benefits of second hand shopping, but dread the thought of sorting through hundreds of clothes to potentially end up not finding anything in their style or size, Bellazo is a great place to shop. Bellazo is a second-hand boutique located downtown that specializes in Revived Style.

“Our aesthetic is on trend with many different tastes varying from the newest teen crazes like oversized tee’s, scrunchies, shell necklaces, and Vans to high end fashion with designer items such as Prada, Chanel, and Gucci. You can pick up a casual outfit or find the perfect little black dress. There are so many options with all name brand, boutique, vintage and designer labels to choose from with prices that are totally reasonable. Anyone at any age can shop here locally or online,” shop owner Darcy Vail said.

Vail also discussed misconceptions of second hand shopping and how her store differs from other thrift stores.

“I think we have a tendency to think new clothes are cleaner than second hand because they have never been worn, but new clothes have been tried on again and again in dressing rooms and not to mention the amount of chemicals and dyes that are on them,” she said. “All the icky chemicals are free and clear with second hand clothing and at Bellazo everything is laundered so there’s no reason to worry.”

Bellazo offers an array of products from soaps to laptop stickers, and almost everything in between.

“Bellazo is so much more than just a thrift store. Each piece of clothing has been carefully curated with the customer in mind.

All the clothing is washed in organic laundry soap that we sell in the store, and inspected to make sure there are no imperfections or flaws. We try to keep the store very well organized and laid out in a way that’s easy to shop and move through.

“Our inventory is ever changing and you can come in every week and/or several times a week and always find something new. We also sell a lot of fun new items like funny socks, kitchen towels and mitts from Blue Q, wonderful smelling candles from PF Candle Co, ZUM organic laundry soaps, room sprays and skin care and so much more,” Vail said.

Bellazo is not accepting clothes donations or consigners at the moment, but Vail encourages everyone to donate their used clothing and household items to any of the other thrift stores around town.

Bellazo is located on Market Street and is open M-F from 10-6 and closed on Sundays.

Whether you are wanting to reduce your carbon footprint, support local causes, or just find a vintage pair of jeans, there are many options right here in Wabash.

Posted on 2019 Sep 03