‘There are enough things in the world’

Die-hard collectors and antique geeks aren’t the only ones buying vintage and secondhand home goods anymore. Resale shopping has hit the mainstream.

According to a 2022 report by Chairish, an online home decor marketplace, U.S. spending on resale home furnishings has grown 62.6% since 2015. It expects the industry to expand another 29% by 2027 — a growth rate three times that of traditional retail.

Resale stores in the Twin Cities area can attest to this recent uptick in business. Whether it’s because of COVID-19, social media or the emergence of an eco-conscious generation of shoppers, one thing is clear: When it comes to home decor, old is back in style.

Hunt & Gather is a whimsical, multilevel vintage amusement store and a nearly two- decades-old Minneapolis landmark. The shop is stuffed with antique figurines, clothing, postcards, furniture and general oddities, which often overflow onto the sidewalk along Xerxes Avenue S.

Recently, Hunt & Gather has seen a rise in sales and broadening of its customer base, which owner Kristi Stratton attributes to pandemic-inspired redecorating.

“I feel that people observed the spaces in their house and noticed that they needed a bit of sprucing up,” Stratton said. “So, when we opened back up, people came in hoping for some more vibrancy in their homes.”

A new generation of fans

Additionally, Stratton said, social media has helped Hunt & Gather attract attention, locally and beyond. Shoppers will often post about the store’s many curiosities on platforms such as TikTok, with some videos reaching more than 100,000 views.

Social media could also be fueling the widespread popularity of shopping vintage and secondhand among younger generations. Stratton said customers ranging from midteens and into their 20s have had an increasingly strong presence in her store in recent years.

“We have customers traveling near and far saying they heard about us through TikTok,” she said. “That was new and exciting for us.”

The Mustache Cat in St. Paul offers a mix of vintage and modern home goods. Since opening in March, owner Rebecca Sansone said, the store has had plenty of younger customers. Transitional pieces — including glassware, plant vessels and smaller pieces of decor for shelves or coffee tables — are proving popular.

“They may not have a space that they’re going to live in for the next 50 years,” Sansone said. “They’re buying things that are high-quality that they can see themselves loving for an extended period.”

Sustainable retail

Part of the appeal of resale has to do with the environmental benefits of buying preowned goods.

“The younger generation is incredibly conscious of what’s happening in our environment, and what will continue to happen as they mature,” Sansone said. “There are enough things in the world, why not just buy and use stuff that’s already there?”

Abby Green, a 21-year-old recent college grad and self-proclaimed vintage lover, started working at the Mustache Cat in August. As someone who frequently purchases vintage clothing and home goods, Green said sustainability plays a large role in their shopping habits.

“Our generation has to face the fact that we have a different environment to work with,” Green said. “As we grow into adults, we’re realizing that it’s a better choice to shop sustainably.”

Hennepin County’s Choose to Reuse program encourages residents to purchase used items in order to reduce waste. Buying secondhand preserves natural resources and reduces the amount of pollution emitted into the environment. Plus, it prevents items from ending up in landfills and decreases packaging waste.

Both Green and Sansone also noted that young people are increasingly inclined to shop small and shop local, a movement spearheaded by the generations before them. “It’s really nice to get a chance to interact and meet with the business owners, and to know where your money is going,” Green said.

A storied history

Susan Donnelly, who owns SouthSide Vintage & Quality Goods in Minneapolis alongside her husband, Chris Donnelly, said they’re finding that the younger people visiting their store are largely drawn by the sense of connection that comes with buying resale.

“They are interested in having things with a story in their lives,” Donnelly said. “The more they know about where something came from, the more they want it.”

For this emerging customer base, going to vintage and secondhand stores has become a popular social activity — just as it has been for generations. Looks like some things never get old.

“They come on dates, they come in groups, they make a day of it. So it’s also about the whole experience,” said Donnelly.