Giving old or unwanted items a new lease of life by recycling or swopping them with others instead of throwing them away is becoming increasingly popular in Singapore.
Thrift stores are reporting that they are seeing more young shoppers, as the quality of the items on sale improves. The stores rely on donations from the public.
One such store called NEW2U is under The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO). It rakes in an average of S$20,000 each month and all proceeds go to Star Shelter, a shelter for abused women, and other SCWO initiatives.
Most items in the shop go for between S$1 and S$5. Upmarket items can command up to S$300. The shop does not advertise but relies on word-of-mouth and a Facebook page.
Apart from racks carrying a range of branded goods, one can also find unusual items, like a designer wedding gown. Donations typically increase as the year draws to a close, and more young shoppers are disregarding any stigma associated with pre-owned items.
Ms Zhang Chen, an SCWO volunteer, said: “The fashion here caters to the young and so they enjoy that at a very good price. They can keep changing fashion because every time they buy something and bring it back to donate, they get a whole new wardrobe again.”
Young people visit thrift shops not just to find branded apparel, but also to pick up items which they can alter to suit their own fashion sense.
Ms Julia Lee Shi Jia, 17, a customer said: “I love to follow fashion bloggers from overseas. They seem to like thrift shops nowadays and they get really good stuff.”
Ms Jasmine Chua Xianhui, 17, who also shops at thrift stores, said: “There are a lot of pretty good deals here. For example, there are brands like Topshop and Ralph Lauren and you can get them at good prices.”
At companies like MediaCorp, activities like Swapaholics, a one-for-one barter trade event, are growing in popularity. Staff members can swap items they no longer want with their colleagues.
Into its 9th run, the event saw over 3,000 items collected over 10 days for swapping.
The event discourages staff from purchasing new items unnecessarily, and teaches them to be more conscious of wastage. The success of this event has led to plans to host it on a larger scale, and it may even be opened to the public next year.