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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Second-hand shops will always be my first choice

Mel+Trotter+Thrift+has+a+wide+array+of+clothing+to+choose+from%2C+as+do+most+other+resale+shops.
Mel Trotter Thrift Stores
Mel Trotter Thrift has a wide array of clothing to choose from, as do most other resale shops.

The other day, I was considering the oddities of society’s standards. One such standard is that, in the US, we are required by law to wear clothes. 

The oddity isn’t in the law itself—I surely don’t desire to see nudists wherever I look. My issue stems from the fact that clothes are expensive; it is illegal to not have an item that is becoming increasingly inaccessible because of its cost.

The only affordable clothing seems to be low-quality pieces made from unsustainable materials, which is unfortunate; however, I have good news.

Luckily, communities have constructed thrift stores, consignment shops, and other second-hand stores that sell these typically overpriced garments for a reasonable cost. This allows high-quality clothes to be more accessible and affordable for everyone.

I purchase most of my clothes from these second-hand shops, but I have friends who buy from both retail stores and thrift stores. Either way, it’s important to know about the stores in your area, as each thrift store is different and has unique clothing selections. 

Either way, it’s important to know about the stores in your area, as each thrift store is different and has unique clothing selections. 

Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite resale shops in Grand Rapids:

Goodwill

Goodwill is that classic non-profit thrift store. Ninety-one percent of their revenue is spent on training and placing those in need into reliable jobs locally. There are many Goodwill stores, even internationally, so it is very easy to support their cause no matter where you are.

Unlike certain categories of resale shops, like consignment shops, Goodwill does not have much decor or color in their stores. While this may reduce the store’s charisma, it is charming to know that the company doesn’t spend much money to make their shops more attractive. This strengthens the idea that their money is put towards charity, and minimally elsewhere.

Another aspect I appreciate about Goodwill is its organizational system. All of its clothing is sectioned into short sleeves, long sleeves, pants, and more with clearly labeled signs. Goodwill has more than just clothing, too, and though these aren’t as definitely marked, everything is grouped in its own specific area.

It is important to recognize, though, that Goodwill does not individually price their items. All items within a category are the same cost—the same money spent on a simple undershirt could also be spent on a layered, lacy tank top. Additionally, some shoppers will relocate items to the wrong place, which can be confusing.

Overall, I love shopping at Goodwill to find fun layering pieces for my wardrobe. They often have a variety of brands and clothes of many materials that are also fun to repurpose. While some of the lower-quality items can still find their way into the stock, oftentimes the inventory is filled with high-quality items for as low as $5, depending on the store. 

Mel Trotter Thrift Store

Mel Trotter Thrift Store is a religious non-profit resale shop. Their revenue feeds directly back into Mel Trotter Ministries, which provides services to our community’s homeless population, giving them jobs, homes, and tools to get them back on their feet. While not for everyone, some shoppers are encouraged by this religious affiliation.

Mel Trotter, like Goodwill, has minimal decor. Their walls are sometimes covered in handbags and paintings, but these are always for sale and can be removed at any time. 

There are 5 Mel Trotter thrift stores scattered throughout Grand Rapids, and they all have a slightly different inventory. For the most part, the clothing variety is wide; however, some stores, like the Mel Trotter on 29th Street, have a minimal selection of Men’s clothing. Aside from clothes, they also have handbags, a wide variety of jewelry, and home decor.

My favorite part of Mel Trotter Thrift Stores is how their racks are organized: all of the clothing is color-coded. This makes it easy to find clothes within a specific aesthetic or color palette, making it a great stop when looking for certain colored pieces.

All of the clothing is priced individually, too. Mel Trotter’s prices are comparable to Goodwill, but they can be slightly lower, depending on the garment. Once, I left with a full outfit for only $20. 

Overall, if you’re looking for Women’s apparel, Mel Trotter is a great stop, and quite affordable. 

Plato’s Closet

On the more expensive side of thrift stores is Plato’s Closet—a consignment store that you can find at Centerpointe Mall near the East Beltline, as well as in various cities throughout the US. While they don’t have a charitable mission linked to the store, they do work to make the world more sustainable by recycling used clothes. 

By recycling, I mean reselling. Still, this is a more moral practice than buying directly from big-name retailers; they get their clothes straight from a factory, which is unsustainable. Shopping at Plato’s Closet is also more reasonable than purchasing a single shirt for $30, which most people find unaffordable.

While Plato’s Closet is more costly than other resale shops, few clothing items are more than $15, and each garment tends to be high-quality. Rather than gathering inventory from donated goods, Plato’s Closet buys clothes, at a miniscule price, from willing sellers. The company is known to be picky—they even have a list of preferred brands on their website—promising nicer clothes.

Plato’s Closet is also a little more stylish than the others—it has an energizing, colorful interior. Still, its organization system isn’t color-coded, and categories aren’t always distinctly labeled, making it difficult to find certain garments. Their selection is also limited to clothing, shoes, and accessories.

If you don’t mind spending more money on your wardrobe, but would still like to shop sustainably, Plato’s Closet is a great choice. They have a wide selection of trendy clothing that repurposes pieces that would otherwise be in a landfill.

Overview

Goodwill, Mel Trotter, and Plato’s Closet are only a handful of resale shops in the area worth supporting. There are many shops along Division Street, 29th Street, and other roads across Grand Rapids. If these three don’t appeal to you, don’t give up on buying second-hand; keep researching!

Even if you don’t want to buy from a resale shop, I recommend donating (or, with Plato’s Closet, they’ll buy your clothes). By donating clothes instead of throwing them away, you’re keeping the earth cleaner, and you’re helping less-wealthy people gain access to affordable clothing. 

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About the Contributor
Emalea Rooke, Staff Writer
Emalea Rooke is a senior entering her first year on The Central Trend. Since she was little, Emalea has always had a passion for bringing her imagination to life with creative writing, and she is excited to expand her writing skills this year. Other than writing, Emalea enjoys reading, drawing, and spending time with friends. She is the head of costumes for FHC Theatre this year and hopes to use the knowledge she gains in college for Fashion Design. Favorite Song: "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson Favorite Video Game: Red Dead Redemption Favorite Flower: Carnations Favorite Accessory: Her sun-shaped nazar necklace

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