COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Sustainability efforts are often at the forefront of consideration for large organizations and individuals alike. One sustainability practice seeing an increase in popularity is buying second-hand items, which Columbus thrift- and vintage store owners said is impacting business.

Vintageville owner Michael Woodham took over the store in December of 2022. Since then, Woodham explained he has transitioned the focus of the store from furniture to vintage fashion, something he felt was missing in the Columbus thrift market.

“The perks of buying used and buying vintage is the quality is better. It’s gonna last, you know,” said Woodham. He continued, “It’s already been made … you’re not having to use resources to buy product that’s not going to last a season.”

Although Woodham stated his store caters to everyone and is “super inclusive,” he also emphasized that he is trying to attract a younger customer base. As a college-aged individual himself, Woodham said he wants his store to attract students.

At Chapman’s Thrift Mall, manager Jackie reported the store has been seeing increasing numbers of Columbus State University (CSU) students coming in recently. Some, she said, came for back-to-school shopping, looking for clothing, shoes, uniforms and jewelry in the store’s vendor booths.

Oftentimes, students are looking for jeans, Jackie said. She explained many buy multiple pairs for $3 to $4 a piece and upcycle them by distressing them, cutting them or making other fashion adjustments.

The term “upcycling” was coined in the mid-1990s and refers to a process in which someone takes an old or used item and updates or repurposes it to give it a new life.

Online second-hand clothing retailers like ThredUp, Poshmark and Depop have become popular resources, especially for younger thrift shoppers in recent years. According to the Association of Resale Professionals, the second hand and resale market is expected to $53 billion this year.

Jackie reported she did not think online thrifting sites were negatively impacting the store’s sales. Woodham also did not view online second-hand shopping as a threat to his business.

Instead, the Vintageville owner decided to lean into the popularity of online thrift sites, opening up digital stores for his business on eBay and Shopify earlier this month.

“It has been a huge boost in business because we’re opening up the market to outside of Columbus,” said Woodham. He added the store had shipped 30 items ordered online within the past week.