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NEW YORK — It's not just eBay anymore. A slew of websites and apps act as virtual thrift stores for vintage devotees, deal hunters and those just looking to unload stuff they don't want anymore.
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These sites have proliferated as the recession of a decade ago and the slow comeback in wages since then dramatically altered how people shop. Discounters like T.J. Maxx have been sweeping up, while many traditional retailers have shrunk, gone bankrupt or disappeared. The stigma of "used" has fallen away, and many now shop knowing full well they can sell their pieces later and get some money back. Some consider buying used clothes online a more eco-conscious approach to trends.
IS IT TOO SOON FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING?
There's a range to the Goodwills and consignment stores of the internet. Some cater to kids or young adults; some are specifically for high-end fashion; some are a free-for-all. Online, stuff may be more expensive than at an actual thrift store, especially when you add in shipping costs. But in many cases, it's also easier to find stuff — no dusty racks, no piles of clothing, and you can search for a brand name and item without leaving your couch. There's often room to negotiate price.
The best sites create an experience for shoppers that's not only easier to navigate than an actual thrift store but better than going to a traditional store and buying something new (at full price), said Anita Balchandani, a McKinsey partner.