Thrifting is an increasingly popular way to shop (and a great way to spend an afternoon), but what if we told you it could be a full-time job?
At least it is for Ambie Hay, who goes by “Palm Beach Thrifters” on social media. When she’s out and about in Palm Beach County, Florida, scouting for her clients, Hay follows their wishlists to find what they’re seeking. And when she comes across incredible antiques and vintage pieces that aren’t on the list, she posts them to her Instagram page, where she shares thrift items and their locations with her 196,000 followers from all over the world.
Her goal is simple: to promote secondhand shopping by encouraging people to check out local thrift stores.
“Thrifting is such a blast, but it really takes a lot of time, and a lot of people are working or they have children at home,” Hay, 61, told Nice News. “That’s where I got the idea that well, at least I could post because I’m out there anyway.”
Hay, who worked in retail for 25 years, closed her own design boutiques to pursue her passion for thrifting and become a full-time reseller. Around five years ago, she started an Instagram account “to show others and to help the thrift shops because they’ve helped me so much.”
“I found so many beautiful things in these stores, and I know how hard the volunteers work, and the thrift shops are always affiliated with charities,” she added. “And I thought, how can I give back to my followers? How can I give back to the thrift shops?”
She’s been able to give back to her local shops by featuring vintage treasures on her account, offering the publicity and exposure they might not have otherwise had. “One of the [thrift stores] the other day said, ‘Oh my gosh, we had a group of women down from Tennessee, and they came in because you mentioned our thrift shop,’” she recalled.
For Hay, who’s originally from Kentucky, thrifting runs in the family. Her interest in it began when her mom would take her to Goodwill as a child, and she now thrifts with her nieces and nephews.
“I really love seeing that the younger generation now is embracing vintage pieces and secondhand shopping. I think it’s just fantastic,” said Hay. “I can see that it’s getting bigger and bigger.”
While the resale industry in the United States is slowly increasing — the number of businesses has grown by an average of 3.5% per year on average since 2018 — Americans still throw away more than 34 billion pounds of used textiles each year.
But people like Hay are helping to reduce waste by turning consumers away from fast fashion and its detrimental impact on the environment.
And she’s starting ’em young: Hay wants to teach children about the importance of thrifting with her children’s book, published in 2021, focused on “the importance of recycling.”
As per her website: “Thrifting is proof positive you can earn money, save money, give back, and have fun all at the same time! … Thrifting is not a trend, it’s the future!”