CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Resale, consignment, or thrift stores? Whatever people refer to them as, they draw people and money; lots of money. Americans spend billions of dollars at resale shops every year.

It varies, but earnings from resale shops are estimated to be between $17-24 billion annually. More than 25,000 resale, consignment, and not-for-profit resale stores draw Americans in to browse for secondhand clothes and goods, according to the National Association of Resale Professionals (NARTS).

Three stores in three years. That was Rhonda McMaster-Allendorph’s goal when she purchased Plato’s Closet Schenectady in 2017.

Next came Style Encore, which opened in the Clifton Park Center Mall in 2018.

The third store, Once Upon a Child opened next to Plato’s Closet’s new location off of Route 146 in Clifton Park in November 2020.

McMaster-Allendorph said it was her daughter and co-owner, Mehgan McMaster’s dream to open a store. McMaster-Allendorph told her daughter she had to get her bachelor’s degree in business before she would agree to buy a store.

McMaster-Allendorph said it happened to work out that Plato’s Closet, a place her daughter used to shop, was up for sale when her daughter graduated. Why are second-hand stores popular? It’s simple: According to McMaster-Allendorph, there is a demand for places where people can go shopping and save money.

Online thrift store thredUP listed saving money as one of the reasons people shop at thrift stores in its 2021 Fashion Resale Market and Trend Report. Other reasons are sustainability, quality, and an aversion to both economic and environmental wastefulness.

Why people thrift shop

  • Savings- nearly 75% prefer stores that save them money
  • Unique finds- close to 50% like stores that have new items when they shop
  • Unpredictability- approximately 50% like not knowing what they will find

Source: 2021 Fashion Resale Market and Trend Report

McMaster-Allendorph’s three stores get inventory by purchasing used clothing and other items. They have strict standards for what they will accept. Items have to be in good condition, without signs of wear like holes or stains.

On being choosy about the items they accept, she said, “That’s not the reputation that I want. I want the reputation that it’s a nice store.”

Each store is also built to appeal to a specific demographic.

Once Upon a Child has clothes, toys, and shoes for Preemies up to size 20 as well as other baby gear. Plato’s Closet has women’s and men’s clothes, shoes, handbags, and other accessories that mostly appeal to teens. Style Encore sells women’s clothing, both business and casual, as well as shoes, handbags, and accessories.

Sustainability is often thrown around as a major benefit of buying secondhand stuff. McMaster-Allendorph said secondhand stores keep items out of landfills. She’s right, but it also saves energy, water, and reduces carbon dioxide (co2).

ThredUP has a sustainability report for each item on its website that shows how much energy and water are saved by purchasing the item. It also shows how much co2 is reduced.

“Making secondhand purchases is naturally eco-friendly: You’re giving new life to something ordinarily destined for the landfill — and likely saving some money and supporting a good cause to boot,” said Discover Magazine.

Thrifting is expected to continue to grow in popularity. ThredUP estimates sales to double in the next five years to $77 billion in annual sales.