I’m an avid and passionate thrift shopper. I’ve written about it on this blog before asking the question: “what is the magical mix of elements that makes thrifting such an exciting pastime?”
It’s not an easy question to answer. And it differs depending who you ask.
Value Village is working hard to splash its version of an answer all over town. They’re spending bucket-loads on print, TV and radio spots. But they haven’t figured it out. Goodwill is desperately trying to keep up by playing the “cool” card when it comes to re-using clothes, furniture, etc. They don’t have it nailed-down either.
The problem is they’re trying to talk to everyone at once–moms saving a buck on their kids’ back to school clothes, grannies on a pension and the fashion-forward set. You can’t do that. Sorry.
You know who’s got it figured out? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis do. This mind-blowingly good music video is ostensibly a thrift anthem for those who own their funky thrift styles. And its aptly named Thrift Shop (all the lyrics are here)
Because this video makes me want to run, not walk to my local thrift store, I think it’s worth highlighting why these guys get what is so irresistible about thrifting. And yes, I know it’s really not cool to quote rap like you’re writing a PhD thesis. For that I apologize in advance.
In short, it’s not that VV and Goodwill don’t have some of the same insights behind this video. Yes, in a creative brief written by an agency somewhere, VV knows that thrift appeals to:
- The price conscious
- The eco conscious
- The fashion conscious
In fact on the Value Village (well, Savers, the US conglomerate that owns VV) website they say “we’re a place where people from all backgrounds love to shop for great selection, deals and treasures.” They say it, but they don’t say it right if they want to talk to a critical part of their audience—folks who wear their thrift clothes like a badge of honor.
Macklemore’s song is how you talk to people who rock their thrift with pride. Here’s how he does it. He says;
- You’ll find “fucking awesome” stuff: It’s not ‘cool’ or ‘great’ stuff or “fun finds.” It’s fucking awesome stuff–ok? Macklemore says: “’bout to go and get some compliments passin off in those mocassins, someone else has been walkin in” Those used moccasins you found? They’re fucking awesome! Grandpa’s suit. It’s fucking awesome! I think that’s pretty clear.
- It’s a bargain (bitch): He says “Savin my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain bitch ima take it grandpa style.” It’s not just that it’s more affordable, it’s that you can save money and own that grandpa style. Walking out of a store with a bag of (fucking) awesomeness when you had “$20 in my pocket” is where the magic lives.
- You’re Not a Sucka: Macklemore spends time taking down the stupidity of spending money to line the pockets of big business. Macklemore is doing for fashion what the Truth Campaign did for tobacco; making you feel like a fool for handing your money to big business. VV can’t take this tact ’cause they’re for a for- profit big business (and owned by Walmart). But man this would be a good strategy for Goodwill if they’d be willing to take a risk (they wouldn’t because of corporate sponsors). I smell an opportunity! Who wants it? Macklemore says:
“They be like oh! That Gucci, that’s hella tight.I’m like Yo! That’s 50 dollars for a t-shirt. Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition, 50 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch. I call that getting swindled and perished. I call that getting strict by a business.”
Interestingly, I stumbled upon this ad designed by a student who was trying to come up with the right kind of messaging for Value Village. They get so much closer that any of those other playas.
Gotta go, I’m gonna pop some tags.