Pop and rap hits tend to be either of the “being in da club,” or “baby don’t break my heart” variety, “Thrift Shop” by Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis actively disdains the swagger, bling, and expensive shoes that most music stars cultivate. Instead, the number one single off of Macklemore’s album “The Heist” celebrates the idea of saving money while still looking “incredible.”
In an interview with MTV news when the song first began surging, Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, said he never imagined “Thrift Shop” would take off the way it has, especially given its counterculture message.
“Rappers talk about, oh I buy this and I buy that, and I spend this much money and I make it rain, and this type of champagne and painting the club, and this is the kind of record that's the exact opposite," Macklemore explained to MTV. "[This song is] the polar opposite of it. It's kind of standing for, like, let's save some money, let's keep some money away, let's spend as little as possible and look as fresh as possible at the same time."
“It's obviously against the status quo of what people normally rap about," he said. "This is a song that goes against all of that. How much can you save? How fresh can you look by not looking like anybody else?”
Macklemore bragged in another interview that he shops at thrift stores “probably five times a week.”
The song was released in October 2012, and broke through the top ten on December 27, 2012. After 16 weeks, it knocked the prolific chart-topper Bruno Mars off of the Billboard Hot 100, and took the number one spot on February 2, 2013. It has remained at number one since then, and has dominated the number one spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight weeks.
It’s unclear, however, if real-life American thrift shops have seen any kind of uptick in the rate of either donations or sales from the store in the wake of the popularity of “Thrift Shop”.
One location where Macklemore and his team shot their video, the Fremont Vintage Mall, said it had seen “increased attention.” “You definitely hear people talking about it,” said Kendrick Deaton, the mall’s manager. The mall is not actually a thrift store, Deaton emphasized; it is a space where different dealers can rent space.
“Nope, no change,” said Nicole Paul, Manager of Seattle’s Red Light Vintage and Costume, in response to a question about whether her store had seen any added traffic in the past month. Macklemore used Red Light’s location in Seattle’s Capitol Hill to film part of his music video. “It’s been pretty steady,” Paul added.
Patrick McKeon, the manager of Angel Street Thrift Shop in Chelsea, Manhattan, also reported no unusual changes in rates of product movement. “I don’t know if our customers are aware of [the song],” McKeon said. “I’m sure some of them are. It certainly raises consciousness about thrift shops.”
McKeon mentioned that the store was getting ready for several events, like the spring fashion preview. “We do have increased traffic because of events in the store. It generally starts to pick up at this time of year anyway,” he said. “But traffic is pretty much the same all the year round.”
A spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries, one of the biggest national thrift store chains, said in an they “have not seen an impact on a national level,” but that every Goodwill store is an independent local operation. Data from the Seattle branches, which Macklemore also used for filming, was not immediately available. “Goodwill sales are up but within what we are seeing as attributable to our normal growth curve,” the spokeswoman wrote.
The Salvation Army did not respond to a request for sales data, but a spokeswoman said in an email, “It's hard to pinpoint whether the song has had a direct impact on donations or sales, but we hope that people are inspired to donate to The Salvation Army when they hear it!” wrote Jennifer Byrd, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army in an email.
Buffalo Exchange, another nation-wide chain of resale outlets, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Macklemore’s representatives.
Watch Macklemore’s video below:
Watch some fantastic covers from rising a capella stars Pentatonix, and producer Scott Bradlee: