Gettin’ thrifty

Blacksburg, Va., Nov. 4 – Brad Kesling, co-owner of VTThrift, takes pictures of his inventory to post to the company’s social media. Photo credit: Sarah Cundiff


by Sarah Cundiff–

When it comes to fashion and clothing, who doesn’t love a unique find? Or even better, one that doesn’t break the bank. Even greater than that, how about an option that is sustainable for the environment? If you ask Brad Kesling, co-owner of VTThrift, there’s nothing better.

Kesling is a senior at Virginia Tech studying accounting and marketing, who along with fellow Virginia Tech student and co-owner Kyle Tan, took over VTThrift back in 2017. 

“It started out as a thrifting hobby but now it’s much more,” said Kesling. “We didn’t create the actual Instagram page, VTThrift was created by Carter Davis and he had about 200 followers at the time. Me and Kyle [Tan] were avid customers and bought all the time.”

He wasn’t seeking out thrifting as a business venture (although according to a Fortune article, that proves to be very profitable), but when the opportunity arose, Kesling knew it was a chance to take this hobby and turn it into his passion.

“Going into my sophomore year, [Davis] said he was done with it and me and Kyle both messaged him at the same time saying we’ll take it over. We saw a much bigger vision for it,” said Kesling.

Now, VTThrift has over 3,000 followers on Instagram and has sold over 2,500 items. So what makes it special – besides the fact that it’s completely owned and operated by college students? Well for one thing, there is no brick-and-mortar location. At least not all the time. 

Besides online ordering via Instagram, VTThrift holds “pop-up” shops at distinct times in various locations around Blacksburg.

In addition to the fun of pop-up shops and the convenience of having orders delivered directly to customers’ doorsteps, VTThrift and thrifting as a whole, also provides a clothing buying option that is better for the environment, according to an article published by the University of California Berkeley.

Blacksburg resident Audra Bernard, thrifts for similar reasons. “First of all I think it’s cost-effective, it fits with my personal style, and it is Earth-friendly and sustainable,” said Bernard.

“I guess it’s important like our mission statement is to provide a sustainable source of fashion for college students at a discounted price,” said Kesling. “I think sustainability is also something we’re really trying to push because another big trend within clothing is fast fashion and people go through clothes so fast, but why do that when there’s so many existing clothes.”

Business plans and ambitions aside, for Kesling it all comes back to a love of thrifting.

“I think VTThrift is really good for people who maybe aren’t really in the thrifting scene and don’t really know how to find things,” said Kesling. “I really encourage people to go out and do it for themselves because it’s a really fun time.”


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