Quote: Maybe to some extent, but in large part no. Thrift shops serve a few purposes, and really only one is frustrated by buying and flipping: providing low-cost clothing to those who are in need of it. The various other functions (providing employment, good deeds done with the proceeds from selling donated clothes, etc.) are arguably enhanced by people buying thrifted clothes and flipping them, as it results in more purchases and more funds for the organization selling the thrifted clothes. Also, from the broadest perspective, flipping is a market mechanism that maximizes utility. The clothes are more highly valued by the people who finally end up buying them from the flipper. The flipper gets the arbitrage profit, and the store gets the lower price. The middleman flipper is exploiting his superior knowledge about the value and where and to whom they can be sold. If the store were simply to sell Kiton's to a low-income shopper, there would just be the profit from the sale and whatever utility that person gets from the clothes. I would probably argue that so long as flippers don't discourage people from donating clothes (people could conceivably stop donating if they perceive the clothes they give are not going to those in need but rather greedy capitalists like us!), then there is no harm done, and in fact it probably helps. I have always wondered how hard it would be for the larger thrift stores (SVA/Goodwill) to better price clothes according to their value. It's hard to just make a list of brands (very hard for individual employees to tell the difference, without any training, between RLBL and Lauren RL or whatever, let alone all the different designer diffusion lines like YSL, Dior, or Armani) but they could probably do a bit better discriminating based on labels. There is probably some balance that could be struck that wouldn't require extra training on the part of the employees that sort the clothes but still prices things more along the lines of their value. Then again, if they were to price up all the nicer clothes, it would hurt the market for flipping, and that would negatively impact those who buy thrifted clothes and those who flip them, while at the same time helping those who benefit from the thrift store profits. In the end its a policy question that depends on where you think the benefits of the whole clothes donation/thrift store enterprise should be allocated. The way it is now is probably the simplest method, which often ends up being the best in the long run just because people do what they are comparatively good at and the market does the work. Wow, that ended up too long, but it's an analysis of the economics and policy of thrift stores for those who may be interested!