A thrift store is a store that sells donated items such as clothing, fashion accessories and homeware at minimal prices for a cause.
In Delhi, there is one such store which is a well-kept secret – Sisters of The People Thrift Shop. If you want to create a zero waste wardrobe and get pre-loved household goods, this place should be on top of your list. Alternately, if you want to donate your good wearable clothing, you can drop it off here.
7 reasons why you should buy from a thrift store
When you go zero waste, the first step is to reduce the amount of clothes you buy and the second is to choose mindfully. When you buy from or donate to your local thrift store, you :
- support and encourage the culture of reuse & prolong the life of a piece of clothing
- define your unique sense of style as opposed to blindly following a trend
- don’t support the demand for more mass produced fashion (the garment industry is a big polluter)
- save clothes from ending up in the landfill
- support a cause
- challenge myths and superstitions
- save money
Sisters of the People Thrift Shop
If the reasons above align with your values, you’ll love the Sisters of the People Thrift Shop in Delhi. At the heart of this shop lies one core value – it’s all about giving back. Bulbul Talwar, who leads the volunteers at the shop shares how it all began:
“The shop was founded by our chairperson late Mrs Krishna Satyanand with the assistance of a few volunteers in 2001. When we started, our intention was to sell clothes made by elderly women, who met here twice a week.”
“I discovered the concept of a thrift shop when I was visiting the UK and it inspired me to start something similar back home in Delhi. First we started accepting donated clothes. Then we started receiving toys and homeware and soon after, people started to give us brand new stuff as well.”
What can you find at the thrift shop?
The Sisters of The People thrift shop has more than meets the eye. Here you can find a ton of stuff:
- women’s clothing and accessories – tops, pants, shorts, skirts, scarves, dresses, kurtas, salwar kameez, lehengas and sarees, jewellery, bags, shoes
- children’s clothing, accessories, toys and games
- men’s clothing – shirts, t-shirts, pants, caps, hats, bags and shoes
- homeware – tablecloth, bedsheets, curtains, all sorts of appliances
- kitchenware – plates, cups, bowls, glasses
- giftware – paintings, small figurines, tea sets, antiques
A completely women run thrift shop
The store is powered by a group of 12 volunteers and 3 staff members – all women. Together, they manage the whole scene – right from carrying in boxes upon boxes of donated goods that arrive daily to sorting them, pricing them, putting them on display, answering customers’ queries and ultimately making sales happen.
Some volunteers like Kamlesh Sehgal have been working here since the beginning. Anita Chopra started volunteering here a few years ago. She says,”I wanted to give back to society and do something which is fulfilling, so I came here.” On an average, a volunteer devotes 12- 15 hours of work a week.
There is something for everybody at the thrift shop
In all my visits to the store, I have noticed how it serves customers across all classes, ages and genders. I spoke to Santosh from Jharkhand who works as a domestic help in Greater Kailash and has come to the shop many times. He says:
“I do not believe in superstitions about not wearing other people’s clothing. After buying clothes from here, I wash and sanitise them to get rid of any germs. I’ve been doing this for 2 years and I’ve had no problems.”
Dr. Vidhi Gupta, a dentist comes to the shop often because she works at the charitable clinic next door.
“Sometimes you get branded clothing at a reasonable prices and sometimes you find new pieces…at least 30-40% of the items in my wardrobe are from here. I do save a lot of money and I donate stuff to the store regularly,” says Vidhi.
Shweta, an ex-banker has bought a few sarees for her domestic help and some books for her son from the book shop next door. She explains why she prefers thrift shopping:
“When we buy new things, we encourage demand and there’s more supply. I learnt that it takes so much water to make a pair of jeans and now I see how brands use marketing gimmicks to entice us to buy more.”
Anita Sood, a resident of Pamposh Enclave has found something special at the thrift store today – a super cute basket (Rs.200) for her domestic helper who is expecting a baby. She wants the child and mother to be together when she returns to work.
Where does your money go when you shop here?
The revenue generated by the shop is used for running 18 schools called Baalwaadis that provide education, uniforms and mid-day meals to children who live in slums across the city. The proceeds also go to senior citizens’ homes.
Low prices, high quality
Goods sold here are both used and new, high quality and in mint condition. The prices start from Rs. 30. I bought a pair of shorts, a blouse and t-shirt – for 50 rupees each and a layered cotton dress for 300 rupees.
Location and timings
The shop is located in the Lajpat Rai Bhawan compound which is a 2 minute walk from Moolchand metro station. It opens 2 times a week – on Monday and Friday – from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM. The shop remains closed to the public during June every year.
What is done with excess materials that are left unsold?
“Clothes that do not sell are sold at a very nominal price to a rug maker. A lot of other stuff is channelled to deserving organisations & hospitals, ” explains Bulbul.
While there is no way to assure that what you buy from or give to the store will not end up in a landfill at the very end of its life cycle, don’t let that bring you down. Remember, you have to take the first step when it comes to creating a zero waste wardrobe and a thrift shop offers you that starting point.
You can connect with the Sisters of the People Thrift Shop on Facebook.