Students struggle to find affordable thrifting options in Evanston


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

A sign in the window of Crossroads Trading Co. in Evanston. Northwestern students expressed frustration with the prices at the store.

Natalie Chun, Reporter

In recent years, thrift shopping has become more of a fashion trend than for affordability. As a result, conveniently located stores with stylish pieces, like Crossroads Trading Co., in downtown Evanston, are far too expensive, students said. And more affordable alternatives like Goodwill, often have limited clothing options.

Some Northwestern students have complained about the limited options for thrift shopping in Evanston, and one student even said she resorts to options like dumpster diving to find affordable clothing.

SESP junior Jessy Feng Han said she first began thrift shopping freshman year of high school after watching a lot of “thrifting videos” on YouTube.

“It’s like a little adventure,” Feng Han said. “Every time, you never know what you’re going to find, and it’s inexpensive.”

Feng Han said thrifting in Evanston is not very convenient and that the only option is Crossroads or Goodwill. She said that because of the lack of options, and since she is no longer growing, she hasn’t really gone clothes shopping since coming to Evanston.

Sam Liu, a Communication sophomore, said she looks for smaller stores in Chicago, particularly in Wicker Park and Andersonville, but getting there can be an inconvenience.

In response to the lack of thrifting options in Evanston, Liu and her friend Melissa Batz, organized an event last spring called NU Thrift Store, which was held in Norris and allowed students to donate and shop for used clothing items. Liu said that they sold over 150 items at the event and hope to make it a quarterly event.

“It’s so much better to buy used clothes than to buy new clothes, Liu said. “The only cheap clothes that are new are from fast fashion companies, and it’s just terrible, everything they do.”

The intersection between sustainability and cost-efficiency is one that goes together naturally for some students.

Batz, a SESP junior, worked with Liu to create the NU Thrift program last year after seeing a lot of items being thrown away at the end of the quarter. She said that while she latched onto the environmental aspect of thrifting more recently, it’s always been more cost-related for her.

“I’m from San Bernardino, Calif., which is a primarily immigrant, Latinx community, low-income mostly, so thrifting was just like shopping,” Batz said, “like going to another store, it wasn’t anything really special.”

Batz said she has had trouble finding affordable shopping places nearby but has found some items at the Goodwill in Evanston and on Free & For Sale, a Facebook group for Northwestern to exchange used items.

But while Batz thrifts for economical reasons, Liu encourages people to thrift shop for a multitude of reasons. The environmental aspect is something that she said everyone should consider but that there are also style reasons that inspire some to thrift.

“You find more unique pieces, some of the items, depending on where you go, there are specific thrift stores for vintage pieces,” Liu said. “But those tend to be higher-end, more expensive pieces.”

Email: [email protected]