Tivoli Shop Thrift 2 Fight Sells Secondhand Clothes for Social Change

The idea for Thrift 2 Fight was born out of a conversation between friends in the Hudson Valley. A model for supporting grassroots social change through the ethos of thrift was created when a series of pop-up clothing sales were held to raise money for social justice organizations.

The group wanted to support people on the ground in different ways. All of us had difficulties getting to the protests. We didn’t have a lot of spare money in the bank. We thought we had to do a sale. We got a bunch of stuff, threw it on my porch, and priced it very low. A bake sale with clothes.

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On a rainy day in June, Zabara and friends Sarah Goldberg and Anna Siftar expected a few people to show up for a sale that they had decided to call “Thrift 2 Fight Fascism.” Dozens of people stopped by to browse the garments on the porch in the center of Red Hook, and in the afternoon they raised $680 for Black organizers in New York City. Every single person that came to buy clothes asked when they would be doing this next. The next sale was held on the lawn of the church. There is a grocery store parking lot.

Everyone who came to our sales had expressed to us that it was very important to feel like they were contributing to some sort of change, intertwined with their lack of desire for new clothes or disappointment in Goodwill and Salvation Army. They wanted a fun way to get clothes. Not buying another piece of disposable stuff.

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The team is at a pop-up sale.

The team grew to include a lot of friends and neighbors. The crew ran 15 more pop-up sales all around the Hudson Valley, raising over $15,000 for organizations and activists all over the country at the intersection of racial justice, queer liberation, and disability rights. The idea of a brick-and-mortar thrift shop was something that Zabara was thinking about at the end of the summer.

Alejandro Crafword taught the course in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program. Zabara says that he took it as an exercise to find out if he could ever start a business, and that he came up with a business plan with pitch decks and an entire financial spreadsheet. They estimate three years of work in a semester.

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At the end of the course, the team competed in a pitch competition for a grant. We had the chance to make predictions. They say they were ready to start looking for investors. We came up with the idea of a chain of Thrift 2 Fight stores.

They won the grant and were able to take Thrift 2 Fight’s show on the road in New York in 2021, popping up in Albany, Syracuse, Ithaca, Buffalo, White Plains, New York City, and Kingston. We rented a truck. Zabara says that they took all the clothing people had donated to them.

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Amplify and fund.

The genius of Thrift 2 Fight is that it doesn’t seek to swoop in and offer a solution, but rather to supply the people and organizations on the ground who are already doing the work with more resources to bolster their efforts. The tour raised money for the local community fridges. We wanted to show them a way to use their community power in a different way, where they could use their money in the community to help groups that might not have access to big grants.

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Thrift 2 Fight has embraced the chapter model and is constantly looking for new ways to collaborate. Anyone interested in hosting a sale is invited to contact them through the website. They are talking with people in Rochester and Boulder, Colorado. The fashion department at Buffalo State College is partnering with Thrift 2 Fight to put on a fashion show and pop-up sale. Zabara says that they will look at the viability of a Thrift 2 Fight store in that community. Picking a spot on a map that doesn’t have connections or understanding of what we’re trying to do is not something we want to do.

The thrift store is in Tivoli.

The flagship Thrift 2 Fight shop in Tivoli opened in January and is doing well. In a town where most other retail shops are closed, and even restaurants are closed, I am surprised people are leaving their house and shopping. People are coming out. We have been selling a lot of jackets, hats, pajamas, and sweaters, which is a reflection of the weather.

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The thrift 2 fight has a social justice lending library.

There is a big storefront with lots of natural light, wood floors, and creamy white walls. The store has a large amount of clothing donations from individuals and partnerships with local thrift shops that have an excess of inventory.

Reed is a lifelong thrifter and says it is difficult to be a consumer. If you know about the climate emergency, the human rights abuses all along the supply chain in clothing manufacturing, and the huge environmental impacts, you can choose to reuse clothing.

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The store is divided into categories based on garment type and themed collections, with items ranging from designer labels to $5 picks to high-end vintage. There are sweaters and pants, shorts, scarves, and accessories. The lending library of social justice books was launched by Thrift 2 Fight. The building’s owners are hoping to open an adjacent space for events. A grand opening for Thrift 2 Fight is planned for later this spring with music, food, drinks, and a fashion show.

Over 40 sales have been hosted by Thrift 2 Fight and it has raised over $43,000. 10 percent of every sale at the thrift shop goes to local activist groups, while online sales go to grassroots initiatives around the country. 25 percent is donated for items sold at other shops. Zabara says how much they were able to donate was calculated. The goal is to increase this by five percent each year and reach 25 percent donations in four years or so.

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It is difficult to figure out how to be a part of a movement for equity and justice with so much guilt tripping and blame to go around. We wanted to support the activists who have been doing this work for a long time. The groups are made up of people living in the communities they serve. We aren’t reinventing activism. We want to amplify the voices of people that should be supported. We hope that mindset can spread to other communities to help the activists make this country better.

The storefront of Thrift 2 Fight is open from Thursday to Monday.


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