Thrift Stores

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOtherpeer-review


Thrift stores, also known as charity or opportunity (op) shops, are important secondhand retail and social welfare hubs. Often run by not-for-profit organizations, they provide opportunities for people to volunteer, work, and shop for preloved goods locally and through growing online platforms. In this entry, we recognize the potential of thrift stores to support community and environmental programs – and point out some criticisms and challenges that they face as part of complex local and international secondhand economies. Critiques have focused on increasingly professionalized, profit-driven store operations and the deployment of a volunteer workforce (older adults) for sorting donations in an unsaleable condition, while challenges include the deteriorating quality of donations. More broadly, the popularity of thrift stores prompts questions about “guilt-free” shopping, disposal, and unequal south–north trajectories of consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology
EditorsGeorge Ritzer
Place of PublicationUSA
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9781405165518
ISBN (Print)9781405124331
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Cite this