On April 1 of this year, freshman Erika Minnear led a free thrifting event for all students. Donations from the Fashion Merchandising Association supplied the first pop-up store.
The thrift store was open from 10:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m. and offered an array of clothing for both men and women. Shoppers could pick out their items, strike a conversation with Erika – and her fellow store operators Lily Chaffin and Aislynn Martin – and leave knowing they found a deal.
Minnear explained that the idea of a free thrift store was something very closely related to her major: human economics with a concentration in merchandising and design. She described that lengthy title to mean ethical, clothing-based business production. The idea was encouraged by Delayne Miller, Office of Sustainability manager.
“Erika and the other Sustainability Office workers … have done a great job at working together to pull this ‘free thrift store’ together for our students,” Miller said.
She described the Office of Sustainability as a platform for students to connect their interests to sustainable habits.
“Here in the Office of Sustainability, students have the opportunity to pursue projects of interest to them, in their area of study, related to sustainability. The Wings-Up cycle store is an example of that.”
Minnear and Miller both shared that other universities have held similar events.
“This type of program has been done on other campuses, and we are hopeful that it will develop into something here that the students use on a regular basis,” Miller said.
Although thrift stores have made an appearance at other universities, Minnear shared that assembling the Wings Up-cycle store had its own challenges, including the decision to make items free.
“It was a long process of talking about it with the office … we wanted the thrift store to be free so that we could give back to Tech students in a way that would be convenient and accessible … for everyone.”
All the hard work paid off! Around 30 people stopped by – something Minnear considered, “a huge success … I was thrilled there were as many people as there were.”
“The goal for next year is to make it consistent.” Her vision includes donation bins across campus, a more accessible location, and more publicity,” Minnear said.
“Not a lot of people know where University Services is, they just recognize the building with the smokestack,” she explained.
Minnear has even considered opening the store up to the public. “It would be a great idea if there’s enough clothes,” she said, “the bigger, the better.”
The free thrift store took place in the University Services building, in room 208. The office, room 201, is open for donations from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The next thrift store pop-up will be on April 29, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.