Prudence. Economy. Thrift.
Second-hand store. Resale / hospice shop. Thrift store.
How much do we know about the concept of collecting / selling second-hand items, donated by people and the profit of which goes to charity?
UAE is best known for its penchant for luxury fashion stores, international brands and high-end boutiques. Amidst this, although at its nascent stages, the shopping scenario also seems to be progressively embracing pre-loved items. Platforms like Depop, Poshmark, and Mercari have made secondhand buying and reselling more accessible, especially with the pandemic’s impact on in-person shopping.
Pre-loved item stores allow buyers to afford a treasure trove of high-end fashion without breaking the bank. Thanks to the likes of ‘Thrift for Good’ – a charity thrift store that sells preloved items to reduce waste and help children around the world in partnership with the local non-profit, Gulf for Good.
And the brain behind it?
Occasionally we come across people that embrace life, seize every moment and make it into a beautiful journey. Not just for themselves, but for the world at large. Jennifer Sault, Chief Cheerleader / Founder at Thrift for Good and Board Member at Gulf for Good is one among them. With her Masters in Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy and over 18 years of experience working with charitable organizations, Jen is passionate about raising funds for children’s projects. Volunteer-run with 100% profits donated to charity, their mantra – declutter your used items; shop our feel good fashion and volunteer to make it happen!
Born from the vision of a sustainable world where everyone has what they need to thrive, let us hear from Ms. Jennifer Sault and dwell deeper into how this social enterprise helps in decreasing the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
- Tell us about the ethos of ‘Thrift for Good’. How did the idea emerge?
Thrift for Good’s mission is two-fold: to rehome preloved items to reduce waste and help children around the world. What we did is good for the environment. We endeavour to be zero waste and not throw any donated items. We help children by donating 100% of our profits to children’s charity projects via our partner, the local non-profit Gulf for Good.
This concept is a great social enterprise model worldwide and we are so proud to bring it to Dubai in a big way. The idea emerged when I was working with Gulf for Good and many people wanted to support by donating their used items and volunteering their time. My friends and I started to fundraise by selling items at the Dubai flea market and it grew very organically over time from there.
- Can you explain the entire process from the ‘seller’ to the ‘buyer’?
When you give your items to Thrift for Good, we thank you by offering an AED10 gift certificate (whether it is one item or 1000). We give back by giving 100% of the profits to children in need around the world.
You can declutter to Thrift for Good by either dropping off in store any day any time or arranging a free collection from your home with thanks to our courier sponsor, Shyft.
From there, volunteers sort the items into perfect quality, which we sell in store and online www.thriftforgood.org, and less than perfect quality. We wash what needs to be washed and we try to repair/stain treat what we can. Otherwise, we sell these at flea markets at discounted rates. What doesn’t sell, we donate to local communities. What is no longer usable, we work with our partners to upcycle into beautiful items such as facemasks, tote bags, dolls, rag rugs and more!
- How many volunteers help you through this project?
We have over 60 dedicated weekly volunteers. More than 300 have helped us since the beginning of our initiative. It takes an enormous amount of effort to sort, steam, price, and sell, so we are always in need of more support. To volunteer, please fill in our form here: https://thriftforgood.org/pages/volunteer
- What are some of the challenges you face?
The biggest challenge we face is processing items that are at the end of life. We have spent a lot of time and research trying to find a local partner willing to recycle clothing. We have been unable to find this to date. Instead, we partner with individual upcyclers and do not make any margins from this. Therefore, moving end-of-life materials from our storage is very difficult and we often become backlogged. We are dedicated to not landfill any items, however, and are confident that we will find a solution, even if we need to offset its cost.
- There is a common opinion that thrift stores exist because of the overgrowing number of ‘haulers’. Your comment.
We unfortunately live in a very consumerist society where people are buying more than they need. The average lifespan of clothing is at its shortest, with 3 out of 5 fast fashion items seeing the landfill within their first year.
To be truly sustainable with fashion, the answer is to buy well made lasting quality clothing without micro plastics produced ethically and without environmentally harmful dyes and pesticides. Then, to extend their life for as long as possible. For this environmental paradigm, thrift stores play a vital role in extending the life of clothing, offering a cheaper alternative, and also increasing the guilt free enjoyment of being able to change up styles and even have new wardrobes with our various life changes.
For as long as fast fashion is an option, thrifting at least helps to offset the problem of mass buying, extending the lifespan of clothing. However, what is even better is to choose sustainable first hand and then thrift those items sustainably second.
- You are passionate about children’s rights and connecting global charities with funding. Can you tell us more.
Our Founder and Managing Director, Jen, has her background in fundraising for good causes. This began in high school when she started an initiative to fund a small daycare in the Philippines and then took a gap year to volunteer with children overseas. Seeing the disparity in living conditions and opportunities from her childhood in Canada to many in Tanzania, Nepal, India as some examples, Jen made it her mission to dedicate her career to children overseas. She quickly learned that many great initiatives exist, but what they most often lack is funding. Over 14 years of fundraising and a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership and Development later, Jen is so proud to be the rallying force behind Thrift for Good. It combines everything she loves and is truly making a difference to children around the world.
- What can we find in your store?
We sell clothing, shoes, bags and accessories for women and men. We have a wide range of brands from unbranded to high luxury. The majority of our prices range from just AED5 to AED30, with fewer higher brands being higher.
- How would you address – “I feel weird about wearing someone else’s clothes. Is thrifting sanitary?”
We are actively fighting the stigma around second hand. Luckily, when people see that the clothing is in perfect condition and many times still new with tags, these preconceived notions tend to fall away. Simply put, it is no longer someone else’s clothing; it is a clean piece of fabric that people can enjoy for a fraction of the price, while also giving back and protecting the environment.
The way our society sees the need to buy new is dead wrong. Clothing production is the third biggest polluter on our planet. It is incredibly wasteful, not designed to last and unfortunately often inhumane with respect to wages and working conditions of the people making the clothing. Once you truly know this, the question becomes how can you stand to buy fast fashion?
Fortunately, thrifting is trending. It allows for incredibly unique pieces and rotating your wardrobe without guilt. We truly believe it is the future of fashion.
- What are your expansion plans?
We are opening our second store in Times Square Center on November 26th 2021!! We hope this second store will become our central flagship store as we expand our online store and gear up to open further stores throughout Dubai and the UAE in the coming years. Every community should have its charity thrift shop.
- Human ingenuity, technology, knowledge, and wealth have grown step in step with unsustainability. As a crusader for a sustainable world, what message do you have for the readers?
Our advancing human ingenuity, technology, Knowledge and wealth have made mass production possible. With this, like many young adults who have just left home, we are spending our budget too quickly! The environmental bills are starting to come in and we are changing our ways. Looking back to the past before plastic and mass production, we can remember how to take care of our resources, how to truly live sustainability. Imagine refilling our containers and bags when shopping for naturally grown products!
It’s an exciting time. However, because the same advancements in technology are uncovering solutions for environmentally friendly production. Combining old and new solutions, I believe we can live well in a way that also preserves the environment.