The rise of buying second-hand

Here are 3 San Antonio thrift stores to diversify your wardrobe on a budget

We all know a college student’s budget is tight. We are those students who look for dinner deals, sales and discounts, so it’s no surprise that thrifting has become popular among college students. Thrifting and thrift shops provide a way to find gently used, affordable clothing and household items. They usually sell secondhand clothes and other goods, sometimes benefitting a charitable institution. Not all thrift stores check the latter box, though. With the rise of internet shopping, online resale stores and even luxury resale consignment websites have popped up.

Thrifting for clothing is the most popular corner of resale shops, although you might find anything at Goodwill or a flea market. The desire for vintage clothes — dad flannels, old band T-shirts and distressed jeans — has also contributed to thrifting’s rise in popularity. There are Instagram accounts devoted entirely to thrifting: those like @themetalromantic focus on vintage looks, while sustainable fashion is the heart of accounts like @acteevism.

Thrifting is not just a cool trend. For people with limited means, it’s simply a necessity. Job losses caused by the pandemic have led many people to thrift as a way to acquire necessary goods.

Resale shopping has been popular among both high school and college students for years now. In general, thrift stores provide decent clothes and household wares at affordable prices. I visited three stores around campus to get a feel for thrifting both in general and in San Antonio. Just don’t have anything specific in mind if you go thrifting; it can be hit or miss.

Buffalo Outlet San Antonio (145 W Olmos Dr.) is close to campus, just 1.3 miles away. The building is small but has plenty of full clothing racks within. Prices range from around $4.50 to $8.00 for both men’s and women’s clothing. I was particularly drawn to the jacket selection, where a thick winter-and-rain jacket was $8.00. The store is well-organized with clear labels and size markers. This store definitely has men’s flannel shirts and oversize T-shirts; it also has nice dresses and skirts. The clothes are organized with both style labels and prices on every rack.

Boysville Auxiliary Thrift Store (307 W Olmos Dr.) is walking distance from Buffalo Outlet. It sits across from a Scientology church and an H-E-B. The sign boasts clothes, furniture, shoes, books, jewelry, linens and more. A smaller section holds dressier women’s clothing, including wedding dresses and dress shoes, while a larger open section contains everything else. There is enough furniture to browse through; the same can be said of the store’s $0.79 VHS tapes. The store is made for hours of browsing and even offers shopping baskets.

Still only one mile from campus, Montage (423 W Grayson St.) offers an entirely different atmosphere than Buffalo and Boysville. It is not particularly affordable — T-shirts are on sale for $20-$25 — but if you want the store’s self-proclaimed “curated vintage shopping experience,” it delivers. The building is difficult to find amid construction on St. Mary’s and Josephine Streets; there is also little parking specifically for the store. The unassuming, small, white exterior does not quite match the busy interior, where an entire wall is devoted to denim bottoms and tops. There are no distinctions between men’s and women’s clothing nor size markers dividing the clothes. Montage has a pleasing aesthetic vibe with the clothes arranged by colors, and this organization makes it easy to spend time flipping through all the T-shirts.

Resale shops that offer secondhand apparel and/or goods at discounted prices are a good way to stick to a budget, but as more niche, trendy resale stores pop up, that affordability might diminish. Differentiating between true thrift shops with lower prices and bougie resale shops could turn out to be a key skill and one that helps save your budget.