Remember when buying used clothing was taboo?
Back in the adolescent middle school days, it was practically illegal to sport a hand-me-down American Eagle hoodie. And many teens would rather have died a slow death than be caught face down in a Value Village bin.
Then somewhere after puberty, the name-brand era ended and everything old became cool. Buying secondhand clothing no longer meant you were some forgotten orphan. It meant you had style – it meant you were vintage.
While the thrill of the hunt and the smell of mothballs are appealing, the Internet has made finding deals a lot easier.
Yes, we all know about online shopping carts Ebay and Kijiji, but now there’s something even more convenient. Secondhand shopping is now being done through social media. Girls Only Facebook pages are grabbing bargain huntresses from all over.
“I think pages like Girls Only are changing the way we secondhand shop, said Amy Silliker, an administrator for a local Girls Only page. “Yes, it’s fun to go into Salvation Army or Value Village, but let’s be honest, the clothing that is sold there is so outdated. So it’s nice to just sit at home and look for the latest clothing trends.”
These Facebook pages are places where women can sell, buy and swap clothing and accessories. There are two main groups for the Fredericton area. Each group has over 1,000 members and are still gaining fashionistas.
This is an example of how people are using the power of networks to take control of how they buy and sell items,”said Allan Gates, founder and partner of Bonfire, a marketing/advertising agency. Retailing is changing dramatically and retailers need to understand that in some ways their customers are also becoming their competitors.”
The pages aren’t unique to Fredericton, but Silliker believes projects like Girls Only work better in a smaller community.
“I’ve lived in bigger cities and joined similar groups that haven’t been as successful. There was just too many posts and it was hard to sift through everything. Being in a smaller city we don’t get as many posts, which makes it easier to browse.”
Having a small, dedicated gaggle of members makes the groups easier to monitor that they are being used properly. Both of Fredericton’s Girls Only pages are closed groups and members must be approved by an administrator. Silliker had been in similar groups that quickly got bombarded by spam and nonsense.
“We have some young ladies that will test the admin when asked not to sell certain items or ask not to conduct themselves in a certain way. Other than that we keep the drama at a zero and remove things or members as we see fit,” said Coty Powell, an administrator of the other Girls page. “With adults in charge of this group we keep it very clean.”
Despite the rule system, the Girls Only pages are still more active than local clothing sales on Kijiji.
“How many times do we log onto Facebook everyday? It makes it easier to have everything all in one place,” said Silliker
The other perk is you don’t have to deal with credit card confidentiality, shipping, handling and seedy encounters. Most members are students who make swaps on campus.
“I think this is a much safer way to do online shopping. You’re able to look at people’s Facebook profiles before you meet up with them,” said group member Adrienne McNair. “Plus you don’t have to give any personal information, you can just meet up at the cafeteria.”
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