Members of the Vanderbilt community can take the clothes they need for free.
Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) has converted Vanderbilt’s former student communications office, room 307c of the Sarratt Student Center, into a permanent, free thrift store run by donations from the student body. The store opened November 29 and is available to all members of the Vanderbilt community.
Senior Jenn Coen, President of the VSG Environmental Affairs Committee, told The Hustler that she was inspired establish the store by free thrift stores at peer institutions such as Cornell University. Before the opening of the official store, VSG tenuous several pop-up thrift stores, which will take place in the fall 2021 semester from August 28 to September 2. Student Body President and Senior Hannah Bruns said the thrift store will be accessible to all members of the Vanderbilt community.
“Anyone – any student, faculty or staff member – is welcome to walk into the thrift store and pick up whatever they want,” Bruns said. “Everything is free, no questions asked.”
the Vanderbilt Alumni Association helped get the thrift store off the ground by awarding VSG a $5,000 grant. Per Bruns, the money was used to buy donation bins for clothes — rather than the cardboard boxes used during the 2020-21 school year — to clean up donated clothes and pay for storage space to store leftovers. donated clothes.
The store’s clothing comes from student donations, which VSG collected during the 2020-21 school year. Bruns said the thrift store will be restocked based on demand for clothing.
“We stored them over the summer,” Coen said. “[Clothing put out earlier in the semester] There was a lot of our summer clothes, but now we have about 1,000 pounds of winter clothes and leftovers that didn’t go missing last time.
Although the clothing available is based on donations, Bruns said there will be pressure to adjust the selection of clothing depending on the time of year. She also explained that there will always be someone in the store to answer questions and monitor the operation of the store.
“If we know it’s going to be very cold for the next few weeks, we’ll try to bring more winter clothes,” Bruns said. “For Halloween, we tried to offer more costumes. Before game days, [we] try to get more Vanderbilt clothes in the store.
Student and junior body vice president Kayla Prowell said she hopes the thrift store will help change Vanderbilt’s culture to be more equitable.
“Since everything is free, it ensures that no one has to worry about financial hardship caused by retail purchases,” Prowell said in a message to The Hustler. “Plus, since anyone has access to it and can donate to it, it makes it a perfect way to unite the campus.”
From November 15-19, VSG and the Vanderbilt Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) co-hosted a winter clothing drive outside of Rand to ensure that all students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, had access to warm clothing. These donations were added to the permanent VSG thrift store after the Thanksgiving break.
Looking ahead, VSG members hope the thrift store will grow and open the door to new opportunities to improve life on campus.
“We hope to expand the thrift store as well as partner with other organizations and offices on campus to create a more holistic approach,” Prowell said.
Coen encouraged students to donate to the thrift store and spread the word about it. According to Bruns, trash cans will be placed on campus at the end of each semester. If the bins are not placed but students would still like to donate clothing, they can bring the items directly to the store.
“We’ll be taking ongoing donations throughout the semester,” Coen said. “We will also have larger collections at the end of each semester so everyone can donate their own clothes.”