It is true that thrift shopping has become more mainstream. Folk that used to be embarrassed to be found shopping at a Goodwill are now just simply bragging about the money they saved on their latest find. Thrift store shops are on the rise everywhere. Very upscale consignment and secondhand shops are popping up in every community. Even the wealthiest socialite wants to save (or make) a little moolah on that once-worn outfit.
So it should come as no surprise that the music industry would jump into the thrifting scene with a musical take on thrift shopping. A case in point is the song “Thrift Shop” by Seattle-based rapper Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis. Released in Aug 2012, this song expounds the joys of finding a unique clothes style without having lots of cash to spend. Mackelmore says of his rap lyrics. “It’s a concept…against the status quo of what people normally rap about… How much can you save? How fresh can you look by not looking like anyone else?”
It seems that shopping at a thrift store has come a long way in the public perception. Songstress Barbara Streishand years ago crooned in her “Secondhand Rose” song the sorrows of wearing secondhand clothes and being someone’s second choice in love. Thrifting and thrift stores were relegated to the down-and-out and needy only, a desperate measure for survival on the cheap. Now the rap world has flip-flopped the thrift store shopping concept to celebrate creative people recycling and shopping for a different look albeit for less cash. In that light, “Thrift Shop” could be considered a thrift shopper’s new anthem of sorts. Be warned about singing along with the original “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Lewis if any small kids are around listening though. Mackelmore and Lewis are still rappers after all, and that mode of music is not usually noted for its G language. There are several “cleaner” video versions of the song around however that capture the concept without the colorful language.
The essence of the song for thrifters should be that the lyrics do express some of the spirit of thrifting- the fun of the treasure hunt, the challenge of finding unique, vintage, collectibles, or one-of-a-kind items all without breaking the bank. Maybe the “Thrift Shop” song is a musical sign of our economic times. It does however celebrate thrifting as a unique creative shopping choice- not merely an economic neccessity.