For many 5C students, Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” is a personal anthem (and for good reason). Secondhand shopping is not only environmentally friendly, but also allows you to score many unique items with “only 20 dollars in your pocket.”
Feb. 16, seasoned thrifters and newcomers alike gathered at Pomona College’s Walker Lounge from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the grand opening of the 5C Thrift Room, a two-room space full of clothing, dishware, jewelry, and other funky finds. Books were $3, textbooks were $10, and everything else was free, as generously donated by students.
The Thrift Room first came to fruition when Sara Sherburne PO ’19, an EcoRep at Pomona’s Sustainability Integration Office, had the idea of what she called a “reuse room.” Unfortunately, gaining traction and support for her idea was difficult.
Inspired by this concept, Kate McWilliams PO ’19 was determined to make it happen. SIO hired her as a project intern, and she decided to turn the Thrift Room into her personal project.
“I wanted to really bring the idea to life and make it a social space on campus that’s always available,” McWilliams said.
With free scones, upbeat pop music blasting through the lounge, and excited groups of friends sharing their finds with each other, the grand opening of the 5C Thrift Room was definitely a social space.
McWilliams credits the event’s success to her previous experience of opening a women’s-based consignment store, the first clothing store in her hometown Bethel, Alaska.
“That whole experience was really inspiring because it was more than just people reusing clothes or recycling; it was also a social space for women to be able to come in, have fun, and find clothes that make them feel good about themselves,” McWilliams said. “It was really empowering for people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to decent clothing.”
Joana Rodriguez PO ’21 heard about the 5C Thrift Room through Facebook and her friends. She goes secondhand shopping at least three times per semester and had an overall positive experience at the event.
“I would have [liked] the space be a little more open though, because it got pretty crowded in there,” Rodriguez said.
Overcrowding was a common concern amongst a few of the attendees, and McWilliams has already asked administration about potentially expanding the room. She is currently waiting to hear back.
McWilliams hopes to organize other events as well, such as documentary screenings, an upcycling workshop, and even a fashion show. In general, she wants to raise awareness about issues with the clothing industry and the detrimental consequences of “fast fashion.”
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fast fashion as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Criticisms of this approach include its negative environmental impact, over-consumption, and increasing levels of textile waste.
Other groups on campus, such as the Facebook group “5C For Sale/For Free,” also promote the reusing and recycling of clothes that would otherwise end up somewhere in a landfill. Students will often post photos of their items, usually at budget-friendly prices. You can save money, explore new styles, and be eco-friendly at the same time.
While there is still stigma attached to the idea of wearing a peer’s old clothing, McWilliams and other thrift-savvy students hope to eventually counter this.
As an experienced thrifter, Elena Dypiangco SC ’19 believes the 5C For Sale/For Free group and the Thrift Room are both great outlets for those who are new to the scene.
Dypiangco’s personal journey with thrift shopping began when she donated some of her clothes at a Buffalo Exchange near her home and realized she could exchange them for store credit. Since then, she’s also shopped at Savers in Arcadia as well as DeeLux in Claremont, a store full of hidden treasures that is popular among 5C students.
“One of my favorite items I got from there is a Disney denim jumper with Donald Duck and Minnie stitched on the front,” Dypiangco said. “I looked it up online and discovered that there were only a select number made in the 80s!” Dypiangco also has advice for those who are looking to get into thrifting.
She recommends asking different stores about free memberships, which often provide coupons and member discounts.
“It’s also good to follow your favorite thrift stores on social media, so you’ll know when there’s a special event or end-of-the-season clear out,” Dypiangco said.
For those who want to remain on campus, The Thrift Room will be open weekly on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.