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In simple terms, thrifting means shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, or flea market where you'll find gently used items or brand new items at discounted prices. You can find many second-hand items online too. The reasons to adopt thrift shopping are endless.

I remember when we used to go on family trips to Nuwara Eliya back in the day during the season my favorite pastime was to check the so-called” BALE” clothing. I loved browsing, elbow-deep in these mounds of jumpers, sweaters, and all the winter clothing that was not suitable for the Colombo climate while my family was looking the other way pretending that they didn’t know me. I was not allowed to buy any as they were “used”.

I guess the resistance towards so-called thrift shopping is because of the prejudice about secondhand or pre-loved items being viewed as hand-me-downs in our culture. The stigma attached to secondhand clothes comes from the mentality that if you can afford to buy new clothes, why buy old clothes that have already been worn by someone else? I have experienced this firsthand. friends and family used to initially look down on me buying secondhand clothes, as in their mind it highlights the social perception that one cannot afford, new, branded clothes.”

Thrift shopping also helps eliminate waste. Many don’t think of recycling clothes like they would paper, plastic or glass. So tons of clothes/textile products, household items, and appliances end up in landfills every year.

How far have we come since then? thrifting no longer carries strong taboos of uncleanliness and poverty or problematic for some like my family members as it had in the past. It has become a trend and a lifestyle for many.

I love thrifting and I have found some great bargains on furniture. household items, jewelry, books, clothing, accessories, shoes, etc. Whenever I go overseas I make sure I visit the local thrift store and can easily spend hours browsing the racks and shelves. Thrift shopping is also fun. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and get in some retail therapy, without winding up spending thousands of rupees on purchases.

Reasons you should thrift
• Economical. Save money & you can instill good spending habits in your children
• It’s not uncommon to find barely-used items or new items that still have their tags.
• Kinder on the environment. Did you know that just to produce 1 pair of jeans takes at least 1800 gallons of water? Shopping at thrift stores does more than just reduce trash; it also decreases pollution
• Fashion is cyclical. where else can you find these gems other than in a thrift store or hoarder's closet? Styles that were popular in the ’80s such as scrunchies, “mom jeans”, cropped tops, miniskirts & sequined clothing, are now in style. “Vintage” is back people
• You may discover designer products at a fraction of the price. I found a vintage Escada women’s shirt for Rs.275.00
• You can develop your unique wardrobe – you will be less likely to run into someone wearing the same outfit
• You can furnish your home on a budget
• And most importantly the thrill of the hunt. It’s like a treasure hunt. you never know what you’re going to find at a thrift store

Some tips for the first time thrifter:
• Make sure you clean and disinfect thoroughly items like soft toys & any kind of toy before you give them to your kid
• Electrical appliances (especially the ones that are vintage) – purchase only if you are very sure of the working condition
• Never buy used Undergarments
• Purchase Hats and helmets only if you are in a position to disinfect and clean. These items could carry head lice and infections
• Never purchase used mattresses & pillows. Am not so into used bed linen either unless I know the person am buying from
• Wash all the clothing items and dry them well in the sun
• Use baby wipes to check if a stain on an article of clothing will come out. Wipe the stain with a wipe and if the stain starts to come out it is not permanent. If not don’t purchase the garment.
• Check each item for any damages. Don’t buy anything you cannot fix just because it’s cheap
• Check each piece of furniture for bugs or insects. Disinfect and clean thoroughly before you take them


Thrifting is giving and taking. Next time when you clean your closet or your house make sure you donate the items to a thrift store.

Happy Thrifting!


Contributed by Nalika Jayasuriya

Author: Mums in Colombo
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