Popular rap 'Thrift Shop' sparks interest in secondhand stores
PITTSFIELD -- Mareike Weiss and Corinna Dahlhaus were poppin' tags at the Dalton Avenue Goodwill on Monday afternoon.
The two Great Barrington residents, originally from Germany, each held several articles of clothing in one hand, while rummaging clothes racks with the other.
Dahlhaus, 20, was particularly fond of a pair of blue jeans she found that "look like they're from the ‘90s."
"There's a big variety, and it's well-organized," Dahlhaus said. "You can make yourself up. If you go to a department store, you're wearing something that a million other people are wearing."
Meanwhile Weiss, 19, found a sparkling black dress for ballroom dancing. She said her decision to go thrift shopping might have had something to do with the hit song, "Thrift Shop" -- "I love it," Weiss said.
"It makes me want to go to a thrift shop," she said.
Released last August, "Thrift Shop" is a cheeky rap song by Seattle-based duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis about "poppin' tags" -- or buying everything from "your granddad's clothes" to "a broken keyboard" at thrift shops like Goodwill. The catchy track has topped the music charts across the globe and been viewed on YouTube more than 340 million times. It's currently at No. 17 on the Billboard charts.
As a result of the independently produced runaway hit, interest and business at thrift shops across the country and in the Berkshires has increased -- at least anecdotally.
"We know the song, and we know any time, from a marketing standpoint, your name is mentioned in a positive way, it's good publicity," said Frank Engels, the CEO of the Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires, which has stores in Pittsfield, Lee, North Adams and Bennington, Vt.
"I can tell you people talk to me about it," Engels said. "I was at a chamber [of commerce] event and a kid did the whole song for me."
"Thrift Shop" spurred a group of Williams College students to host a party centered around it on campus last fall, where $1,000 of Goodwill items were sold.
"In that respect, [the song] has obviously helped our business," Engels said.
Thrifters that browse Berkshire Goodwill stores are the same as they were before "Thrift Shop" became a hit: Cost-savvy and environment-savvy shoppers.
"What we get donated to us is an incredibly high-end quality," he said. "There's a whole lot of people in the Berkshires that go to thrift shops because they're green, and want to recycle."
According to a blog on LA Weekly, some Goodwill stores across southern California and Seattle are injecting some of the song's more popular lyrics onto posters hanging in the storefronts as part of a new ad campaign.
Engels said there's currently no plan to include Berkshire Goodwill stores in the "Thrift Shop" ad campaign, but he would if there was enough demand.
Despite the occasional innuendo or curse word in "Thrift Shop," January Sarno will sometimes play it in her own Great Barrington thrift shop, Boho Exchange on Main Street.
The song has helped make thrift shopping "more acceptable," Sarno said.
"Each decade becomes a little more accepting of it," she said. "It's more individualized and you can find a unique look."
Boho -- stemming from the word "bohemian" -- Exchange opened three years ago with business increasing through word-of-mouth and a tough economy, Sarno said. The store only carries women's classy-casual clothes that are supplied through consignment.
"In Great Barrington especially, people are drawn to vintage," Sarno said. "The older cuts and styles are coming back."
Jeff Winslow said his store, Wild Sage on North Street in Pittsfield, is less of an antique or thrift shop and more of an eclectic shop that sells, among other things, art, pottery and kitchenware from as early as the 1940s.
Winslow hadn't heard "Thrift Shop," and 25-year-old Jessica Bartlett, who does marketing for Wild Sage, was just introduced to it after a "Nightline" special on Macklemore aired last week.
With or without songs like "Thrift Shop," Winslow said the population of those recycling and thrifting will continue to expand.
"More and more people are convinced to go back to the higher quality of things, [and] less reliance on imported goods," he said.
Secondhand retailers ...
Goodwill store locations:
• 457 Dalton Ave., Pittsfield, (413) 442-6627
• 87 Center St., Lee
• 166 State St., North Adams (413) 749-8999
• 215 North St. (Route 7), Bennington, Vt., (802) 442-4285
Other Berkshire thrift and consignment shops:
• The Salvation Army, 501 Dalton Ave., Pittsfield, (413) 448-8900
• Wild Sage, 333 North St., Pittsfield, (413) 447-7000
• Yours, Mine & Ours, 136-140 South St., Pittsfield, (413) 443-5260
• Fancypants Consignment Café, 28 Park St., Lee, (413) 243-0011
• Re-Wear Consignment Boutique, 190 Housatonic St., Lee, (413) 717-7461
• Boho Exchange, 252 Main St., Great Barrington, (413) 528-4500
• Thred's Resale Clothing, 177 Main St., Suite 101, Great Barrington, (413) 528-1533
• Mia's Exchange, 11 Eagle St., North Adams, (413) 663-9800
• Experienced Attire, 79 Park St., Adams, (413) 743-7875
• The Closet Collection II, 38 Main St. South Egremont, (413) 528-6236
• Babies In Bloom, 11 Maple Ave., Sheffield, (413) 229-8022
To reach Adam Poulisse:
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse
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