Changing Up Thrift with ThredUP

Images via ThredUP

“I have nothing to wear and no room in my closet” is the ever-haunting mantra that consumes most of us each day. The outfit dilemmas seem to increase as our closet space seems to decrease. In 2009, a student looked in his closet and had a similar epiphany. He proceeded to gather some items from his closet, lug them to his local consignment shop, only to find out they wouldn’t take any of his items. Most would view this as a waste of time and effort, but James Reinhart saw opportunity. Nine years later, that student is now the co-founder and CEO of the largest online thrift store – thredUP.

A San Francisco based online thrift store, thredUP has become the most convenient way to clean out your closet. How does it work? We chatted with current thredUP spokesperson, Samantha Jacob, to gain some insight. In her own words, “you just go to, order a clean out kit, and it’s sent to your home. It’s this giant bag you can fill up with a laundry bag’s worth of clothing. It comes with a prepaid shipping label and the bag itself is completely free. You leave it on your doorstep for your mail carrier and it gets picked up and processed at one of thredUP’s four distributions centers.”

After your bag is processed, you receive your payment. Yes, it’s that simple. 

Thred Up
A selection of dresses from brands (left to right): Old Navy, Pinky, and Free People.

As you can tell, thredUP has transformed the antiquated act of thrifting. Jacob shares how “over 70% of thredUP shoppers and sellers had never tried secondhand before thredUP, so we’re definitely converting secondhand skeptics into believers.” The intersection of thrift and tech has been the catalyst of this transformation. By automatically suggesting items and allowing the application of filters, thredUP’s “rack digging robots,” as Jacob calls them, have eliminated the pain points of conventional thrift shopping. Along with that, thredUP has also launched Goody Boxes which, via an online survey, shoppers can receive and test out customized packages of clothing before committing to thrift. With over 35,000 brands, you can be sure to find everything from modest motifs to luxury looks at up to 90% off retail prices.

Not only is thredUP the industry’s new and improved model, but it also looks good in green. Eco-friendly initiatives and waste recognition are of utmost importance to this company. Jacob shares, “We actually process up to 100,000 items of clothing every single day and our goal is to keep 100% of that out of landfills.” With thredUP’s mission to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first, Jacob continues to say, “It’s just crazy how much waste happens and the amount of textile waste that occurs when you’re creating clothing. The amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere, and the amount of water that’s wasted. I think that consumers are becoming more savvy and eco-conscious and they want to support companies that are supporting the environment. I truly think that shopping second hand and selling your clothes is one of the easiest and best things you can do to try and counteract the waste that happens within the industry.”

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ThredUP’s featured boxes from its Goody Boxes program. Via ThredUP

By thinking secondhand first, we also bring a little bit of the past with us. With campaigns like Shop Her Closet, thredUP allows women to show off their pieces and share the stories behind them. Jacob expresses how “campaigns like that are a really fun way to get to know the story behind the clothes and the woman behind that story. I do think that shopping secondhand connects you to the person who owned that piece and the story behind it, whether you know it explicitly or not.”

With thredUP, we can be sure to be out with the new and in with the old.  

Nina Kooroshfar is a San Francisco resident born and raised in Monterey, California. She studied marketing and now works at a tech company in Silicon Valley. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, exploring the vintage charm of San Francisco, and learning about different cultures/languages.

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