Darling, Let's Talk About Shopping Second Hand

When I travel, I love to meet local business owners and hear the stories behind their businesses. One of the ways Kyle and I find people to meet up with while traveling is to search local hashtags, and reach out via Direct Messages. While scrolling #Charlottesville the other day, I came across Linnea White, owner of Darling Boutique. At first I was pumped on Linnea's personal style and boss babe vibes, but as I dug deeper (read: got really creepy on instagram), I became more and more excited at the prospect of shooting in her consignment store, Darling Boutique. 

 Linnea White of Darling Boutique

Linnea White of Darling Boutique

Darling Boutique is one part consignment, one part local hand-made wares. Linnea has done an incredible job of curating desirable secondhand items and collaborating with local artisans to offer an affordable boutique-style shopping experience with local flair. The vibe within the shop is bright and sunny, featuring golden yellow accent walls, meticulously dressed mannequins, handcrafted jewelry and body care items, and, of course, Linnea. Linnea is an excellent conversationalist and knowledgeable shop owner. She took over Darling Boutique three years ago from the original owner - with no previous retail experience - and learned everything as she went. The passion Linnea has for the shop and its customers became immediately evident the second someone stepped through the door. Linnea knew all about her, asking how the school year was going, what plans she had for the summer, and how her mother was doing. Another customer, who works at the salon across the street, told me "Linnea always puts the stuff I want out front. She knows I can't resist. It's like she picks things out for me." While a degree of that familiarity may stem from the size of Charlottesville as a whole, it's clear that once you step foot in Darling Boutique, you're family.

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As we shot, we discussed the benefits of shopping and selling secondhand, and the fashion revolution that's been sparked due to the impacts fast fashion has on the environment and those involved in its production. While shopping secondhand once carried a negative stigma, it's become increasingly popular with millennials. Buying previously loved clothing is one trend that won't go out of fashion. 

Why Second Hand?

I grew up wearing hand-me-downs and second hand clothes, but my awareness and conscious participation in the second hand revolution only came about recently. When we made the decision to get rid of everything and live on a school bus, I was both overwhelmed and exhilarated with the idea of minimizing my wardrobe. Things had gotten out of hand. Between being an avid subscriber to the concept of "retail therapy" for years, and being an Instagram Influencer who companies sent products to on a regular basis, my clothing collection was ridiculous. All told, I offloaded 14 trash bags of clothing. While select items were too worn to get any more use, the majority of it was in excellent condition. This is where my passion for second-hand solutions really blossomed. 

We live in a fast-fashion world. Stores like Forever21 and H&M boast on-trend looks with low price tags that draw people from all walks of life. I'd be lying if I said I haven't strutted out of the mall with bags of cheap tees and jeans that no doubt fell apart after the third wash. There are numerous issues with these fast fashion retailers. From stealing designs from smaller independent shops to shoddy garment quality and less than desirable working conditions in the factories in which they're made. It's easy to accumulate without thinking of where things come from, how they're made, or how many hands touched an item before it settles in your closet to collect dust, but once you start to pay attention, it's impossible not to. 

 Photo courtesy of  shopdarling.com  made by  stylewise-blog.com

Photo courtesy of shopdarling.com made by stylewise-blog.com

There are dozens of reasons to shop at second hand stores.

  • Second hand shops are often locally owned, and consignment commissions go to locals who previously owned the garments. Money spent at consignment stores directly benefits local economies, whereas shopping at big box stores lines the pockets of the owners, but rarely trickles down.
  • Secondhand stores like Darling Boutique breathe new life into previously loved clothes, extending their journey and lessening their negative impact on the planet.
  • When you buy second hand, it slows the textile and clothing production chain. Each time you buy a shirt second hand instead of new, that's one less shirt that has to be made from scratch, and one less shirt that ends up in a landfill.
  • You save money on quality garments
  • Since you typically won't find several of the same items, it allows you to cultivate a style all your own.

Consignment Stores: A Minimalists Best Friend

When looking to downsize your wardrobe, whether to live more minimally or just to purge the old to make room for new, consignment stores like Darling Boutique should be your first stop. They're a great place to purge the items you no longer need and make some extra cash. They're also a great place to find any essentials you may need to fill any gaps in your wardrobe. Just because you're paring down to a smaller closet, doesn't mean you'll never shop again. While consignment stores pay a commission on your clothing, many offer higher in-store credit. This provides an excellent opportunity to cycle through items if sticking to the same few items year in and year out doesn't suit you. You can make some dough, get rid of old clothes, someone else updates their wardrobe for a bargain, and no new textiles need to be made in the process. Everyone wins!

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Traveling and Second Hand

Everyone's travel shopping habits are different. I know some people who make shopping an absolute priority while traveling, and others who couldn't care less. I tend to fall in the middle. I'm not one for souvenirs just for souvenir's sake, but I do enjoy seeing how trends tend to change from east coast to west coast, north to south. One of the best ways to check out local style is to visit consignment and second-hand stores. Many of them are locally owned and curated, so you're not getting some big-box corporation's idea of what fashion is; you're getting an accurate reflection of the local flavor. Each item in a second-hand store has a story to tell, just as every piece in your closet holds memories of the times you've worn it. Secondhand clothing carries a kind of character that new clothes just don't, which can make buying in a new town all the more exciting. While I've been in Charlottesville, I've come to realize I need a couple pairs of shorts. I've had the same 3 pairs for years now, and they don't fit comfortably (a must when traveling the country in a school bus). While I was at Darling Boutique, I decided it was the perfect place to pick up some short for the road. I got a great bargain on them, and now every single time I wear them, I'll think about my afternoon with Linnea in her sunny shop in Charlottesville.

 Linnea White of Darling Boutique

Linnea White of Darling Boutique

Let's chat! Do you shop second hand? Why/Why not? Leave your answer below in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!