Walk into Goodwill with $20 in hand and walk out looking “incredible” claims Seattle Rapper Macklemore in his hit song “Thrift Shop,” which has sold more than 4 million digital copies and become the first indie track in nearly 20 years to be number one on the Billboard charts. Thrift shop’s counterculture message has taken off, but unfortunately revenues for the nation’s re-sale, secondhand, and consignment stores have not, reports the International Business Times.
Mackelmore is a huge supporter of thrift shopping. In an interview with MTV News, Macklemore bragged that he shops at thrift stores “probably five times a week.” He told NPR news that “It is something that has been a part of my life since I was a young kid, and it’s outside of the box. I like to write songs about my life and things that make me a unique person, and thrift shopping is one of those.”
This is not typical of most rappers. Macklemore commented that “It’s obviously against the status quo of what people normally rap about,” he said. “This is a song that goes against all of that. [It’s about] how much can you save? How fresh can you look by not looking like anybody else?”
It’s unclear, however, if the general public has embraced his message of clothing individuality in the wake of the song’s popularity.
A spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries, one of the biggest national thrift store chains, said while talking to TIME that she has “not seen an impact on a national level,” but she noted that every Goodwill store is an independent local operation. “Goodwill sales are up but within what we are seeing as attributable to our normal growth curve,” the spokeswoman said.
Why is traffic still the same? Is it because the majority of Americans always want something new? Or maybe it’s a positive reflection of America’s economy. Back in 2009 when the recession hit, countless thrift shops were witnessing sales increases. With millions of people looking for ways to save money in tough economic times, a growing number of consumers turned to resale shops to find their clothes, furniture and household goods, said Adele Meyer, executive director of The Association of Resale Professionals.
Macklemore’s song is most popular with youth and young adults, which many already agree that thrifting is “cool.” Kandace Benson, 28, says “ I love thrift stores. They are a trove of hidden treasure. The only key needed to open this treasure is a lack of pre-conceived nonsense that is saying,”I’m too good for this.'”
Much of the recent growth can be attributed to young shoppers, many of whom are passing on trips to the mall in favor of thrift stores, says Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group, which has studied the trend. In a recent poll conducted at Wheaton College 95% of students said they liked thrift stores, but only 32% said they had gone to a thrift store since hearing Macklemore’s song.
It appears that when Americans have money to spend, there is a general consensus that people don’t like the idea of shopping in thrift stores. For now, members of this class hold opinion that thrift stores are a shabby place that is full of junk. They think that they are “above” shopping in thrift stores. Melissa Kohler, 20, says “I’d rather spend my money on nice clothes and I don’t shop at thrifty stores because I have a fear that someone had died in the clothes.”
Regardless of mixed feeling on thrift stores, one location where Macklemore and his team shot their video, the Fremont Vintage Mall, did see some “increased attention.” Macklemore partnered with Goodwill to auction off signed t-shirts to raise money for the chain’s job training program.
The chain’s manager mentioned that the store was getting ready for several events, like the spring fashion preview. “We do have increased traffic because of events in the store. It generally starts to pick up at this time of year anyway,” he said. “But traffic is pretty much the same all the year round.”
Shoppers today, it seems, have mixed reviews on thrift stores. For those who do enjoy thrift stores, maybe Macklemore’s song won’t increase sales, but instead donations from the overstuffed closets of the rich. For those who don’t plan to thrift shop, no need to worry about whether someone will ask you if you’re wearing their grandpa’s slippers.
If you are interested in thrift store shopping, here are some places to check out: