by Maria Berkowitz–
VT Thrift, a completely student-run discount clothing store that offers unique secondhand apparel, expands business on campus.
The store is owned by Virginia Tech senior Kyle Tan and sophomore Brad Kesling after the previous owner, Carter Davis, passed it down to them. The students market VT Thrift solely through Facebook and Instagram by posting pictures of the clothes for followers to peruse. They have generated a huge following, growing from 250 to 3000 followers in just one semester. Both Tan and Kesling are business majors and credit their knowledge to their professors, however they have not received any direct help or mentorship.
In 2016 Instagram launched its business campaign, allowing entrepreneurs to have small businesses through the app. According to smallbiztrends.com, 52 percent of small businesses market themselves through the app and half of all Instagram users follow a business account.
While Tan is graduating in May 2019, he hopes to pass the business down. He says, “the dream is to have a brick and mortar store in downtown Blacksburg to provide jobs for Hokies and give back to the Virginia Tech community.” Both students say that thrifting started off as hobby but could turn into a career path.
Although there are other discount clothing stores in Blacksburg, the students don’t see them as competitors. Tan says, “It’s not really a competition it’s more like a community because we help each other grow.” Students from other universities who also run thrift stores have reached out to VT Thrift for advice.
Tan and Kesling obtain the clothes from thrift stores all across the mid-Atlantic. They go to thrift stores every time they travel but are hoping to find direct suppliers soon. According to Kesling, Virginia Tech students have a wide range of fashion. He says, “what makes us unique is that we serve that wide range of audience.” He also says their most popular items are windbreakers and anything Virginia Tech related.
Thrift shopping is an increasingly popular trend. According to The Association of Resale Professionals, over 25,000 thrift store businesses in the United States.
Students can pick up the clothes directly from Tan and Kesling’s apartment or pay a small fee for a hand delivery. They also offer domestic and international shipping and have sent clothes as far as Australia.