Shopping will never go out of style - but perhaps sustainable shopping can break the cycle of fast fashion that leaves behind billions of pounds of textile waste in landfills each year. Luckily, Sarasota is filled to the brim with secondhand, vintage and thrift shops here to help the world and your wallet. Afforadable, trendy and affiliated with local charities, these local spots are the best place to find your newest old treasure.

The Exchange

Committed to encouraging creativity in both organizations and individuals throughout the community, The shop has awarded a jaw-dropping $8 million in arts-related grants and scholarships. The Exchange is a true testament to the power of shopping secondhand, not only serving as its own independent nonprofit but contributing roughly $24 million back into the local economy by paying consignors and ensuring that no donation ends up in the trash.

Anything they can’t sell is further donated, with a most half a million dollars worth of merchandise donated in the past five years to organizations such as the Pines of Sarasota and the Salvation Army. Its eco-friendly initiatives have been a huge success. In 2012 The Exchange became one of Sarasota’s Green Business Partners as well as a 2019 nominee for the Tampa Bay Area “Sustainable Business Award.”

After more than 50 years as a household name in Burns Court, CEO Karen Koblenz hopes that Sarasotans “embrace the positive impact that purchasing gently used merchandise can have on not only their pocketbooks but also their community and the environment in which they live.”

Designing Women Boutique

Born out of a post-9/11 inspiration to give back to the community, Designing Women Boutique (DWB) is now celebrating their 17th year in Sarasota. Recycling everything from antiques, fine jewelry and high-end clothing, DWB was created by Jean Weidner Goldstein, Margaret Wise and Diane Roskamp, along with fellow board members of Asolo Repertory Theatre in an effort to breathe new life into pre-loved items while raising money for local charities.

This simple altruistic intention has now grown into a staggering $4 million of grants given to over 100 organizations in Sarasota County. Recently, the team took their mission one step further and launched a new initiative called GroundWorks, which has partnered with Ringling College of Art & Design, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Girls Inc., the Roskamp Institute and The Out-of-Door Academy to create an additional revenue stream for each partner to raise ongoing funds for education. In all things they do, DWB aims to give back, enhance opportunities for those in need and help support the arts: “a vital piece of fabric of society.”

Beautiful You Boutique

Open now for more than seven years, Beautiful You Boutique (BYB) helps Sarasotans shop for previously loved high-end items. A hidden gem, customers regularly stumble upon the shop only to then quickly turn into regulars. Partnering with local nonprofits such as Women’s Resource Center and Harvest House, you can rest assured that your next Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag from BYB will enhance your wardrobe and the lives of people in need. BYB knows the concept of getting more “bang for your buck,” and celebrates their ability to contribute to the community with both donations and the sale of secondhand items that, in turn, help the environment. Owner Paula Coste is dedicated to recycling clothes and giving them another chance “to be loved.”

Goodwill Manasota

With over a century of giving back under their belt, Goodwill is the proverbial poster child for what it means to reduce, reuse and recycle. On the board with the Florida Recycling Partnership and a member of Recycle Florida Today, every item that goes through the front doors of Goodwill can consider itself safe from the landfill.

The nonprofit started 118 years ago with the intention of mending old clothing to sell back into the community while creating jobs. This ideal still stands strong today, with the added benefit of partnering with local charities to further expand their reach for giving. Their adeptly named eco-friendly “river” of quality determination means that even after clothing hits the sales floor, there is another current for it to be taken down if it doesn’t find its home there.

Whether it be the mental health unit of a hospital, a local pantry or even prisons, Goodwill salvages every last scrap of cloth so that nothing goes to waste. In 2019 alone, their scoreboard listed 43 million pounds diverted from landfills and 130,814 pounds of food collected for local food banks, showing that after all these years, all it takes is a little goodwill to make a huge difference.

Canned Ham Vintage

Canned Ham Vintage restores “wearable historical fashion” for savvy shoppers in the Sarasota area. Looking for a hand-embroidered silk slip dress from the 1930s? What about a beaded gown à la Jackie O. from the 1960s? Canned Ham Vintage is the one-stop shop for incredible one-of-a-kind finds from decades of yesteryear—when clothing was made with true craftsmanship.

Store owner Ashley Rogers is committed to personally and professionally reducing her carbon footprint, and what better way than to operate a clothing store that combats fast fashion one sale at a time. Since Sarasota is,“at its core, an artistic community looking to have an inspiring experience when they shop,” Canned Ham Vintage thrives here. Locals and visitors come back year after year to add spectacular pieces to their wardrobe. One shopper who’s been going there since before she could drive is now furnishing her first apartment with vintage pieces from the store.

While shoppers can be “confident in the earth-conscious practices at Canned Ham Vintage,” this spot also proves you don’t need a time machine to deck yourself out in garments from bygone eras. SRQ