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Is It Wrong to Make Money by Helping Others?


Jack (@jbwells2 on TikTok) runs her store Jack’s Vintage on the secondhand fashion app Depop. She posted a video on Jan. 24 where she tries on a variety of thrifted clothes, modeling skirts and jackets that she would later post to her online store. “This right here is the best thrift haul you will ever see,” she says, holding up a large bag overflowing with clothes.

This is from Steffi Cao, “People Are Calling A Depop Seller ‘A Bad Person’ After She Posted A Haul Of The Thrift Store Finds She Planned To Sell,”, February 22, 2023.

When you read the article, you learn that Jack appears to make her living by finding diamonds in the rough, buying them, and selling them at much higher prices than the prices she paid. In buying, she benefits the thrift stores from which she bought; otherwise, they wouldn’t sell to her. In selling, she benefits the people she sells to; otherwise, they wouldn’t buy. And Jack is better off in the process. So it’s win-win-win.

But some people object.

A person who calls herself “kat” says:

people who go to thrift stores, find amazing s**t like this, and then sell it all on depop for 4x the price are the landlords of this generation.

Kat is unwittingly correct. Jack is like a landlord. She, like landlords, performs a valuable service. Landlords buy properties, often improve them, usually maintain them and rent them to people who want to rent. Now if Kat’s objection to landlords is that the rents are too high, she’s singling out the wrong villain. The main reason rents are so high is that governments in the United States have systematically prevented people from building.

Kat and others could object that because Jack is buying up undervalued clothing, she’s making it harder for people like Kat to find those diamonds in the rough. That’s true. But that’s true of every good or service. When someone buys something, it’s not available for someone else to buy. Would Kat object to book buyers finding undervalued books and then reselling them online? Possibly. But it’s not a good objection.

Interestingly, many people who defended Jack argued that she was simply being repaid for her time. That’s true and it’s a good point.

But imagine that Jack was really good at what she does and can make $200 an hour. (I know that that’s highly unlikely but work with me here.) Would that make the gains to the sellers or to the buyers any less? No, it wouldn’t.

Also, Jack is modeling some good behavior for others who are willing to see. She posted on Instagram that:

selling vintage clothes is how she is able to support herself as a college kid without family financial support. “I started Jack’s Vntg in February of 2022, still in school, with $100 to my name, and a lot of hope,” she wrote. “Not to sound dramatic, but it saved my life. I was able to pay my bills, eat, and survive on my own as an 18 year old.”

Keep it up, Jack. We need more, not fewer, people like you.

HT2 to Abby Hall.

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime Editor