How to shop on a budget

Hannah Rapp shopping for new clothes at Buffalo Exchange. Photograph by Claudia Johnson.

As Hannah Rapp, a Tucson local, glides from one hanger to the next, up and down each aisle, her determination does not dwindle. If anything, Rapp said the hunt is her favorite part of second-hand shopping.

“I always have a list of things I’m looking for like cool denim and red dresses, but I usually go shopping with a hope that something inspires me,” said Rapp.

After examining a silk number, Rapp quickly puts it back on the shelf and shuffles to the other side of the store to grab the hot pink jacket that captured her attention. This bright jacket may deter others from adding it to their closet, Rapp said it is clothing like this jacket that has inspired her.

Rapp is a seasoned thrifter, she considers second-hand shops to be a place that is filled with endless possibilities. Buffalo Exchange Sales Associate Keely Condie, a Sales Associate at Buffalo Exchange has similar beliefs to Rapp.

“Everything is more original when you get it at a thrift shop,” Condie said. “You have a different flare with your outfits since nobody else is going to be wearing that.”

From a young age, Rapp said she has always loved fashion and was encouraged to be different by her parents. It was her clothes that helped her feel confident while doing so. The freedom within second-hand shops and that is sewn into the treasures Rapp finds during her hunt is the factor that continuously brings her back.

Condie said she sees customers continuously coming back due to the unique items they find at Buffalo Exchange. “If you go to a thrift shop and get a cool pair of shoes, then you know they’re at least somewhat original,” Condie said.

Though people have always valued high-end products, they are now able to find these same products but at a lower cost due to second-hand shopping. Second-hand shopping has changed the retail industry and as a result, has become a $17 billion dollar industry according to NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals.

With Goodwill, NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals stated the company has been able to generate $5.37 billion in retail sales. Goodwill is more than just a thrift store Goodwill Sales Associate Robin Fritts said.

Goodwills mission statement. Photo by Claudia Johnson

“The money goes into supporting the community; everybody is welcomed,” Fritts said. Specifically, at the store Fritts works at, Goodwill on 1stAvenue in Tucson, she said there is a center in the back that provides locals with the necessary resources to help community members with their job search.

With second-hand shopping, Fritts said shoppers are able to buy cool styles but for a cheaper price. “We do have name brands here,” Fritts said. “A lot of the name brands most of the customers would pay $50, $60, or $100 dollars for, but you can get them here for $4.99.”

Rapp explains how she always wanted to fit in when she was younger. This is why she started to shop where everyone else was shopping but when she got to high school, “I had a new attitude and wanted to take greater risks,” Rapp said.

With this newfound attitude, Rapp’s mother, Carolyn Rapp, took her to Buffalo Exchange. Although this was a new experience for Hannah, this was nothing out of the ordinary for Carolyn. Prior to taking her daughter to Buffalo Exchange, Carolyn said her own mother enjoyed antiquing which was how she was introduced to second-hand shopping. Also, it became a necessity for Carolyn while she was a poor college student.

While 1 out of 5 Americans shop second hand as a money-saving tactic, according to Ecogoodz, many second-hand shop in order to be environmentally friendly.

“Well, it probably helps the environment a little bit because you’re not getting new stuff all the time,” Condie said.

Besides the environmental benefits, many are in it for the thrill of thrift shopping. The thrill comes from the joy of treasure hunting for vintage and designer clothing, Carolyn said. For Hannah, she said she loves finding items that no one will have, while her mother said she loves finding items that can be repurposed in creative ways.

“Buffalo Exchange has taught me that it’s cool to be different and to support local businesses,” Rapp exclaimed. “Buffalo Exchange started in Tucson and is forever something that feels like home.”

As another day of hunting comes to an end, Rapp leaves the store with excitement and outfit ideas tailored to styling her newest edition, a hot pink coat.

Buffalo Exchange customers browsing the store. Photo by Claudia Johnson.

Claudia Johnson a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at


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