Thrift shops, second-hand shops, charity shops, opportunity shops, ukay-ukay, or whatever name you’d like to call them, are now gaining popularity not just among the older ones who might feel nostalgic visiting them, but also among the millennials and gen z people.
Thrift shops could have originated a lot earlier but the first recorded ones happened in the 1890s when the Salvation Army started collecting donations and even scraps that were re-purposed for selling.
During the Depression in the 1930s, thrift shops gained popularity because of the needs of the times.
In the Philippines, it is believed to have started in Baguio in the 1980s. When the country suffered from various calamities, the Salvation Army sent second-hand garments and other goods to the victims. The shipped goods piled up and were bought in bulk by traders and sold to the public at bargain prices.
It’s interesting to note that while the known recorded first ukay-ukay stores were in Baguio, the term ukay-ukay is actually Cebuano which means to dig or to sift through. There is another less popular term, and if I am not mistaken, it is Ilocano – wagwagan. Wagwag means to dust off.
At first, buying at ukay-ukays was looked down upon due to the thought that it’s unsanitary and that it’s only for those who can’t afford to buy brand new stuff. Not anymore! This is no longer the case, as even those in the higher social classes are now buying goods at thrift shops. Second-hand items have also acquired better names such as pre-owned and pre-loved items.
The iconic Jane Fonda has been quoted as saying, “I will never buy new clothes again.” This is in line with her activism on climate change and environment.
Why it’s okay to buy at ukay-ukay
Here are some reasons why Jane Fonda, millennials, gen z and the others in-between are patronizing thrift shops, and why you should too.
1. You save on cost. The most obvious reason is FQ-related. You get good bargains when you buy at thrift shops, especially if you find couture items that may cost an arm and a leg when bought as brand new.
2. It is better for the environment. This is the reason why Jane Fonda said she will not buy brand new clothes anymore. If you buy second-hand items, you keep them from going to the landfill, and makes you some sort of an environmentalist.
3. You can get unique finds. This could be the thrill of the creative buyers at thrift shops. They get excited in a treasure-hunt-like experience which they may not have if they buy brand new.
4. You experience the soul of an item and prolong the story. An old item with history like a vintage piece excites the buyer as she experiences a connection with the previous owner. She becomes part of a story that started in the past that goes on in the present and may continue into the future when this is passed on to another owner. Isn’t that a treat?
5. You are most likely helping worthwhile causes. A lot of thrift stores have beneficiaries that are helped by their profits. One such store is what I will tell you about in the next section.
The Little Vintage Shop of Zonta
First, let me tell you about Zonta. The first Zonta Club was founded in Buffalo, New York, USA in 1919 by women executives and professionals, along the lines of the Rotary Club. Its mission is to empower women worldwide through service and advocacy. It works to have a world where women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential, able to access resources, represented in decision-making positions on equal basis with men.
Late last year, I was invited to join the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs (ZCME). Here, I got to know interesting women who are active in advocacy work and very energetic – you’d find viber messages late at night and in the wee hours of the morning discussing the various Zonta projects.
One the projects is The Little Vintage Shop (TLVS), an online shop where you can find a curated selection of pre-loved fashion items ranging from simple summer tops to designer gowns! You can purchase these items via the TLVS Instagram account (click here).
TLVS was born out of a desire to generate funds for ZCME’s beneficiaries while promoting sustainable fashion. Particularly, profits generated from the project will help the Marillac Hills, a facility that provides temporary shelter, custody, and psycho-social interventions for abused girls and those in conflict with the law.
My fellow Zontians, Penny Katigbak and Mel Asuncion, discuss more about this wonderful project in our next FQwentuhan to be released on Friday June 2, 2023 on FQ Mom You tube channel. Do join me in that conversation.
If you want to participate in helping our Marilac girls and also have a good time finding interesting pre-loved items for yourself or for your loved ones as gifts, please join us this weekend (June 3 and 4) at the Makati Garden Club for our big sale. Here, you won’t just be basing your buying decisions on the photos posted in the IG account but you will get to touch and feel the items yourself, making the experience better. Bring your family and friends along for a fun and charitable weekend.
1. Join us at The Little Vintage Shop sale on June 3-4, 2023.
2. If you haven’t taken the FQ Test, take it now. Click here.
3. If you want the help of FQ Mom in taking the test, click here.
This article is also published in Philstar.
Attribution: Images from Practical Pinay, Suliph, Flickr, https://tessa2.lapl.org/digital/collection/photos/id/50637
Quotes on Jane Fonda from https://www.trvst.world/sustainable-living/fashion/history-of-second-hand-thrift-shopping/