I've been following the discussion at Challie's frugality post. I can't help but think that commenter HEN is referring to this blog in particular:
"Do you, "flip" real estate every two years for a sizable profit as a way to fatten your savings account and yet continue to shop secondhand / thrift?"
---Then you WANT to shop at a thrift store / purchase secondhand, you don't NEED to.
She goes on to call our practice of thrift store shopping "ridiculous" because it robs needier people. I just don't think that is true! For one, earlier in our marriage, we were "the needy". I have watched "the needy" turn away from perfectly beautiful clothes in favor of Buzz Lightyear t-shirts, blue jeans and flip flops. Perhaps not everyone has my love of smocked dresses? I am looking for quality clothing in a specific, narrow range of sizes. There is always plenty of great stuff on the racks when I leave. I know, because my budget can't afford all the great stuff that's available on a daily basis.
Thrift shoppers know how long an item has been in the store based on its color tag--I often buy things which have been hanging on a rack for FIVE WEEKS. At any time someone else in need could have stepped in and purchased that item. One more day and the clothing will be what the Salvation Army calls "ragged out"--baled and shipped to be cut into RAG material.
As far as fattening our bank account, let me tell you, it's not that fat. We have paid cash for my husband's tuition (all the way to Ph.D.)! We have rolled equity into the next house so we have a payment low enough for one income. We have paid cash for automobiles--we've never purchased a car that has been newer than 10 years old. Thrift shopping has kept us out of debt, not rolling in dough.
Hen is right about one thing. Giving directly to others in need is always the best choice when possible. We usually give our coats to my city's Warm Coats for Warm Hearts, which gives an amazing choice of coats to people for free.
I won't publicize all the things my family does do to help the needy. Mathew 6:3 says "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing so that your almsgiving may be secret." Suffice it to say that we have much more to give because we live lightly ourselves. For us, that means avoiding the typical consumer practices ("Just go to Macy's!") that "Hen" would order us to enjoy.