‘Thriftmas’: Vancouverites shop at thrift stores for Christmas presents

Christmas is right around the corner and tons of ads are telling consumers to buy new gifts. But Sarah Chew speaks to some Vancouverites who are making sustainable choices this holiday season.

By Sarah Chew and Emily Marsten

Christmas day is quickly approaching and with it comes the tradition of handing out brightly wrapped presents, and one Vancouverite is making the shift to buy more sustainable presents by heading to thrift stores.

“Overconsumption is such a big thing now, especially, you see a lot of fast fashion hauls and people just buying for the sake of buying and then getting rid of it once they’re tired. So, I wanted to see how much I could do just to help out in a way that was going to be impactful, but also not so hard on my wallet at the same time,” thrift store shopper Sinclair Strand said.

woman shops at thrift store

Sinclair Strand says she is shopping for her Christmas presents at the thrift store with the hope of helping combat overconsumption. (Sarah Chew/CityNews)

As a TikTok user and ‘thrifter,’ Strand says that the price of a gift doesn’t dictate the value.

“Just because it costs more money doesn’t make it more meaningful or more special,” Strand said.

In what she calls “Thriftmas,” Strand shares her thrift shop finds on social media with ideas on what she thinks would make the perfect Christmas gift, like an unopened Hot Wheels toy that she bought for her son.

row of grey sweaters hand on clothing rack

Sinclair Strand says that thrifts shops can be a less-expensive way of finding meaningful presents. (Sarah Chew/CityNews)

Strand says that thrift stores can also have significantly discounted finds, like a sweater from Anthropologie that she bought for under $30 when the retail price is valued at over $100.

“I want the quality time, I want the memories, I want the experiences, and when I go out and I’m putting in the effort to look for things, and I find something that I know my loved one is going to absolutely love, I think that that matters more than how much I spent on it,” she explained.

And Strand isn’t the only one looking for less-expensive gifts.

Alex Clarke, the owner of the Rewind Resale Vintage Thrift Store Vancouver, says the shop has seen an increase in customers looking for holiday outfits and Christmas gifts.

Cutting back on waste

In addition to buying used gifts, one expert says that a good way of cutting back on waste is gifting people experiences.

“Whatever your personal talent is, you could share it with somebody. If you’re a musician, maybe you give them a little private one hour concert, even if you’re not a very good one. I think people just appreciate that you show you care and that it comes from you,” David Hardisty, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia said.

According to Zero Waste Canada, household waste goes up by more than 25 per cent in the holiday season.

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The idea of gifting experiences and cutting back on waste is also echoed by one initiative in Metro Vancouver.

The initiative Create Memories, Not Garbage says on its website that locals can help keep trash down by wrapping gifts in reusable items like cloth ribbons, fabrics, or recyclable items like old calendars or boxes.

Or to get rid of wrapping completely, the group also recommends sharing experiences with loved ones instead of a tangible item.

“Community theatre productions are an affordable and fun evening out. Supporting the local arts also fosters a healthy community. Give it a green twist and include taxi or transit fare,” the website added.

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