Cool Woman: Dina Younis (Akron-based Thrifter, Reseller, Blogger, and Podcaster)
Dina Younis is an expert thrifter, quick to smile and with an incomparable eye for color. I think if she were an article of clothing, she’d be a sequined pencil skirt (from the thrift store, of course), which makes total sense because of her self-proclaimed “Blanche Devereaux tendencies.” She can tell a valuable article of clothing just by barely touching it—she almost sniffs it out amongst the jam-packed racks of fast fashion like some kind of thrifting bloodhound.
Growing up in Amman, Jordan in the 90s, Dina used a Delia’s catalog mailed to her from her cousin in the States as inspiration when she went shopping at secondhand shops. She still uses magazines as thrifting wish lists; you can find her replicating outfits from Real Simple on a regular basis on her well-established blog, Dina’s Days. She has worked with Goodwill Akron and Goodwill of Greater Cleveland to help boost the secondhand community in Northeast Ohio. She has a rotating curated collection called The Spice Rack which makes its appearance at blue / A GOODWILL BOUTIQUE in downtown Akron frequently. She runs thrifting classes and workshops. She is a Thrifting Superstar.
When we met Dina at Village Discount Outlet in Akron, we were stopped more than once by various admirers who have been inspired by her podcast, blog, and Instagram, or maybe attended her classes and were practicing their thrifting skills on a Saturday morning.
"I was listening to your podcast outside gardening, and I was all inspired so I came here."
"Hey girl! I knew I was going to run into you here!"
“We started with Thrift Night Out back in 2013,” Dina said. “It was dinner, a workshop, then we'd go shopping. That kind of evolved into different challenges. I'll do supermarket sweep style: you have 30 minutes and $20 to shop. I'll get a nice mix of people who have been thrifting forever, and then I get a lot of new thrifters. That's a lot of fun.”
“Thrifters love to tell you that they're thrifters; it just becomes second nature to you to talk about it. It creates a really strong sense of community because people can really relate to each other. This is just my lifestyle. It's part of my conversations, it's how people get to know me.”
Not only has Dina been thrifting for much longer and with more devotion than the average person, but she has also been a steady blogger for ten years straight—a feat for a medium that can have fair-weather participants.
“When I started 10 years ago, there were no thrifting blogs. Everybody has a blog now. Everyone's a reseller, everyone's a thrifter. So on one hand, it's awesome that I can connect with so many people. But on the other hand it's like, what's gonna make you different? You just have to constantly keep pushing and thinking of new ideas. That's why we started the podcast—because there were only a handful of them out there. I thought that would be a cool way to continue the conversation.”
Allow Us to Re-thriftrodeuce Ourselves is Dina’s new podcast (released the same week that The She League Podcast was launched!) with her BFF Shannon, and it. is. hilarious. Dina and Shannon’s BFF-moments have me cracking up every time—I’m always a fan of watching people be their best selves with their best friends. Even though the podcast is about thrifting and bargain hunting, it’s actually about two BFFs who love spending time together and talking about their deals, deals, deals.
But Dina doesn’t just have a blog, and a podcast, and an Instagram with over 15k followers. She also is a clothing reseller online, mainly through Poshmark. I’ve sifted through her shop before—it amazes me how often she finds designer brands, or new with tags items, or adorable vintage finds. How does she do it? Well, for one, she’s been shopping for resell for 12 years now. So she has practice.
“I used to go to Gabe's a lot. There was a period where they were selling Juicy Couture velour sweatsuits, and so I was buying and reselling a lot of those. They would have damaged True Religion jeans and I would sell them on E-bay. It would just be like a slit, and I would have my mom fix it, and I would sell them for $100. Then there was Yahoo! Auctions—nobody remembers that.”
In my eyes, anyone who has the patience and fortitude to sift through Gabe’s is a reselling baller. Dina understands the business well. She talked about how you get what you put into it—how any average girl who just wants to post things on Depop or Poshmark isn’t going to get the return she thinks without putting in the effort of taking good photos, maintaining her profile, etc.
“We just interviewed Goodwill [for the podcast], and I asked her [Dee Dee Collura, VP of Retail Operations at Goodwill Akron’s headquarters] how she felt about resellers, and she was like, ‘I love them. If I see them in reseller mode, I'll come up to them and talk to them and ask them what brands they're looking for.’ But some stores don't like it, and that doesn't make any sense to me. Who cares why you're buying it? What happens is I think a lot of thrift stores like this will feel like, ‘if you're gonna make $20 off of it, we might as well sell it for $20.’”
“You get what you put into it, but it all depends on what you're selling. If you have a lot of trendy brands to sell, that will sell on Poshmark in like a second. On Ebay, it ranges from the weirdest things to the trendiest things. A lot of my vintage stuff sells better on Instagram, than on Poshmark. There will be people who know my personal style and get it.
“My tip is start with whatever's in your closet, before you start buying for resale. That's how I started. I didn't even know what I was doing on Poshmark, I was just like, ‘I just want this out of my closet.’”
With a wardrobe she claims to be 95% secondhand, Dina really puts a lot of effort into avoiding buying things new if possible. “I try to buy it secondhand first,” she said. We spoke more about this in a conversation about clothing waste, changing habits, and Marie Kondo.
Dina: “I try to determine how badly I need it. For example, I really needed a pair of black flats for work, and I tried to find them at the thrift store for a couple months. I bought a pair and they ended up cutting my foot. So I was like, it's just time to buy them retail. It all depends on how badly I need the item and if it's a want or a need.”
“I talk about this on my podcast too: I always do my thrift route. I put something on my list and I go to the stores on my route, maybe 4 or 5 stores in the area. It sounds like a lot, but it's really not. Once it becomes a lifestyle, it's just like, that's where you go for your stuff. I don't go to Target, I go to the thrift store first. After that, I'll buy it retail if I can't find it.”
Megan: So when you go to your route, how much time you spend at each place?
“If it's a weekend and that's what I'm doing that day, I'll do a couple hours. But that's the exception. Most of the time it's about an hour. I love just bee-lining and trying to find exactly what I want. Because then I start to get anxiety, like there's too much stuff in my cart, and my decision-making process gets a little crazy. But when you're thinking clearly and you're on a mission... Like the other day I went to Goodwill and I left with two really good tops, and I spent $6. I felt like I was going to wear them a lot, and it was just a very successful thrift trip and I only got two things.”
“That's how you become really intentional with your purchases. Thrifters have a tendency to be hoarders, like we buy a lot because it's cheap. You end up with a whole house full of stuff that just causes anxiety.”
And that's not good for the environment either. It's the cycle of, "Well, I don't need this, so I'll just get rid of it."
“That's how I feel about the Marie Kondo thing.”
There's definitely some baggage to that.
“If we’re not careful, fads like this can contribute to a culture of excess where we start to view our stuff as disposable all the time. We can buy it just to get rid of it. I think thrift stores did see an influx in donations, but I also think that it came at a time at the end of the year when everyone was making their donations anyway because people like to get them out the door before December 31st to get the tax write off.”
“It can be a long and challenging process of trial and error, but I think one of the best ways to fall in love with your wardrobe all over again is to be more intentional with your purchases. I try to ask myself: can I wear this at least three different ways? Did I donate something like this recently? If I can’t answer those questions honestly right then and there, then I probably don’t need to buy it.”