by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Aida visits Cadoux, a thrift shop in Zarif, a neighborhood in Lebanon's capital Beirut, and starts carefully selecting a dress from a pile of clothes.
She holds one up high and asks: "how much is it?"
The shop's owner Ghassan Khodari looks up from behind a rack of clothes and responds: "135,000 Lebanese pounds (LBP) (5.8 U.S. dollars)."
The 45-year-old woman decides to buy all clothes for her children and herself from the thrift shop in light of the current economic crisis and the collapse of the national currency in her country.
"I am happy to find here a good variety of items at affordable prices, since I am no longer able to shop from malls," she told Xinhua frankly.
Thrift shops, also known as "baleh" in Arabic, were not popular shopping places for the Lebanese in the past. They used to visit malls and other famous shopping streets in Hamra, Verdun, Jounieh and Kaslik.
However, Lebanon's severe financial crisis depreciated the Lebanese pound and crippled people's income, forcing them to turn to thrift stores for second-hand bargains.
Khodari told Xinhua that people in his neighborhood have been visiting Cadoux regularly.
Jessica Saber, owner of Vintage Soul, a thrift shop in Jounieh, told Xinhua that demand for her shop has increased by around 70 percent over the past two years.
Saber told Xinhua that the Lebanese have changed their minds, becoming more open-minded to buy second-hand clothes than before the crisis.
"People no longer feel ashamed to buy second-hand clothes especially when they notice that our products are clean and of good quality," she said.
Saber added that an increasing number of thrift shops have been opening all over the country.
"Thrift shops have become so abundant in Lebanon that we have started feeling the competition," she said.
The high demand for thrift stores prompted FabricAID, a Lebanese social enterprise, to create a new concept whereby it collects new and gently used clothes, shoes, and accessories through a network of more than 150 clothing collection bins distributed across the country.
Once collected, the clothes are sorted, cleaned and then sold in their thrift stores named "Souk el-khlanj" at prices ranging between 2,000 LBP to 10,000 LBP, said Loulya Halwany, senior marketing manager at FabricAID.
Halwany added that FabricAID also set up thrift stores named "Souk Okaz" for middle income people, enabling them to sell clothes and buy used clothes in return for a small profit to cover the operation costs of "Souk el-Khlanj."
Lebanon has been suffering from an unprecedented financial crisis which caused a collapse of the local currency and devaluation of salaries, plunging over 78 percent of the population into poverty.