Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" Changes Teens' Shopping Habits

May 11, 2013

Varun Dhananjaya speaking at the RadioActive Spring 2013 Listening Party.
Varun Dhananjaya speaking at the RadioActive Spring 2013 Listening Party.
Credit KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Seattle-based Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' single "Thrift Shop" has topped the charts multiple times. But besides getting people humming along to its catchy melody, "Thrift Shop" is also creating a lot of interest in actual thrift shopping amongst Eastside teens.

Last Winter break, a few months after "Thrift Shop" came out, RadioActive's Varun Dhananjaya got a text from his friend Zhi. They're both juniors at Interlake High School in Bellevue. Zhi asked: "Hey. Wanna go thrift shopping?"

Varun was surprised. He hadn't painted Zhi as the thrift shopping type. Zhi could usually be found at school wearing an Abercrombie jacket and designer jeans. As it turned out, he had never been thrift shopping before.

"It was definitely inspired by the song 'Thrift Shop' by Macklemore," said Zhi. "The music video looked really fun and I thought maybe I would try looking for some clothes to wear. Some of my grandparents’ clothes maybe."

For the longest time, Varun remembers coming to school and seeing kids in expensive clothes from Nordstrom and Abercrombie and hearing them talk about how expensive their clothes were. Now he sees kids in unique sweaters, vests and scarves that they found thrift shopping, and he hears them bragging about how cheap their clothes are.

Listen to Varun's report to find out how Eastside teens have been scouring thrift shops for the ridiculous outfits made famous by the "Thrift Shop" video — and why that rubs some thrift shop aficionados the wrong way. 

This spring, KUOW hosted an after-school workshop for high school students in partnership with Rainier Scholars at the 2100 Building in South Seattle. It was part of our youth radio program, RadioActive. Five youth producers spent 10 weeks learning what it means to be a radio journalist. They created powerful stories about subjects close to their hearts. Listen to RadioActive stories here and stay up-to-date with RadioActive on Facebook.