The art of thrifting – shopping at secondhand stores – is having a heyday in these tough economic times, boosted by growing awareness of the negative climate impact of apparel and footwear manufacturing.
According to Axios, the secondhand market is projected to reach $77 billion by 2025, up from $36 billion in 2021.
This is a welcome trend for Israeli nonprofit organizations that run thrift shops either to support their projects or to employ clients with physical, emotional or mental disabilities.
“Our shops have been so successful as a social business that from a philanthropic point of view we are no longer fundraising. We are only clothes raising,” says Elie Lederman, a supporter of the Organization for Rehabilitation and Integration and its two HaBoydem secondhand stores in Jerusalem.
ISRAEL21c visited the downtown branch on the day it opened a larger location. Students from a Jerusalem school volunteered to schlep HaBoydem’s merchandise from the old shop to a brightly renovated space that used to be a dark bar.
“Through our shops we rehabilitate people with mental-health issues,” says Micol Nizza, community outreach coordinator for HaBoydem (motto: “Giving People and Clothes a Second Chance”), which opened in 2014 and now provides 80 percent of the organization’s income.
HaBoydem employs 15 to 20 clients each year, teaching them workplace skills for the back and front end of the shop, tailoring the rehabilitation plan individually.
“We then accompany them to find a long-term job in the free market and our job counselor keeps up with them afterward to overcome any challenges,” Nizza tells ISRAEL21c.
CEO Guy Avihod relates how his wife, Iris, manager of the flagship shop and sorting center, hired as her assistant a seemingly unemployable young woman with social boundary issues.
After a year at HaBoydem, the woman eventually landed a job at a popular accessories shop – only to score a poor performance rating.
“Our supportive employment specialist used the feedback from the report to help her improve, until she became employee of the month,” Avihod reports proudly.
Buy for a purpose
Here’s a list of thrift and consignment shops in Israel that exist solely to support charitable endeavors.
HaBoydem (The Attic)
1 Avraham Rivlin Street (downtown) and 15 Tzeret Street (Talpiot), Jerusalem
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:30am-7pm; Friday 9:30-1
Dedicated to rehabilitation of people with mental-health issues, HaBoydem attracts high-quality used clothing from individuals across Israel as well as new tagged surplus clothing donated by importers. There are neat sections for men’s, women’s, vintage, designer and children’s wear, plus accessories.
HaMetzion (The Bargain Stop)
39 Pierre Koenig Street (Talpiot) and 97 Jaffa Street (downtown), Jerusalem
1 Eitam Street, Mishor Adumim
82 Jabotinsky Street, Ramat Gan
Dizengoff Center mall, Tel Aviv
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9am-9pm; Friday 9-2:30
Founded in 2013, this social and environmental business of SHEKEL-Inclusion for People with Disabilities employs about 40 people with special needs as 40% of its staff in five locations (and a collection center in Modi’in).
Every day, HaMetzion shops add about 2,000 high-quality and unique vintage clothing items for all ages, in addition to shoes, books, jewelry, textiles, bags, housewares, toys, art and more.
Founder Avi Abiker says HaMetzion has 23,000 club card members. Some customers come in twice a week.
“At the beginning, it was a job-training program but last year we decided we want to keep our workers, so now everyone is a permanent employee with full salary and social benefits,” says Abiker. “It’s not boring like many other jobs that people with disabilities get. We challenge them with different jobs and missions.”
One of the workers with disabilities, who’s been there seven years, was initially afraid of the customers, says Abiker.
“After a month he started to warm up to people. After about six months he already had a key and began opening the shop every morning, tidying up and putting on music, ready to greet the day’s customers.”
Harel Mall, Mevaseret Zion
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-5pm; Friday 10-2
56 Rothschild Boulevard, Rishon LeZion
49 Yehuda HaLevi, Tel Aviv
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10-7; Friday 10-2:30
Second Chance shops are run by AniShlishi (I Am Third), a nonprofit organization founded by two American immigrants in 2018 to provide occupational and personal development for youth at risk.
“We integrate and employ the youth in the stores in a variety of roles during a process of professional training and the acquisition of diverse skills, in order to prepare them for successful integration into the world of employment in the community,” says CEO Gaya Ben Sira.
“Our vision is that through meaningful employment they can change their own circumstances and make choices to create any future that they want.”
At the stores and online shop, you’ll find gently used vintage and modern merchandise from retailers such as Hollister, H&M, Zara, American Eagle Outfitters and Banana Republic.
The Mevaseret branch, interestingly, employs mainly youth from the nearby Arab village of Abu Ghosh and is managed by a religious Jewish woman.
HaLiga (The League)
32 Yisrael Aharoni Street, Rehovot
Hours: Sunday and Wednesday 4pm-7pm; Tuesday and Friday 10am-3pm
Established in the 1960s and recently renovated, this secondhand shop benefits the programs of HaLiga, an organization founded in the 1930s to help care for people with tuberculosis.
Today there are still some immigrants and foreign nationals arriving in Israel with TB, but HaLiga also works with municipalities to provide medical, social and material support for individuals in need suffering from any kind of lung disease.
“Our store in Rehovot supports our activities across the country,” says CEO Karin Shiran-Barash. “People bring us all kinds of great stuff: clothing for all ages, household and electrical items, toys, books, backpacks, you name it.”
The shop has a professional manager and is staffed mainly by volunteers who sort and arrange the merchandise – and tend the plants artfully growing in old boots.
HaBigudit (The Dressing Room)
11 Hillel Street, Jerusalem
35 King George Street, Tel Aviv
4 Yair Street, Ashdod
1 Weizmann Street, Beersheva
23 Habonim Street, Hod Hasharon
12 Rosh Pina Street, Herzliya
35 HaNasi Street, Zichron Ya’akov
50 Moriah Street, Haifa
10 Shivat Zion Street, Ashkelon
121 Weizmann Street, Kfar Saba
And 35 additional locations across Israel
Hours vary by location; click here for a list (in Hebrew)
Run by volunteers of WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organization), a 103-year-old organization supporting a wide range of education and social services for women, children and youth, HaBigudit thrift shops in many cities across Israel not only funnel profits to WIZO programs but also discreetly provide free clothes to needy individuals referred by local welfare authorities.