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.”


There doesn’t have to be a crisis to donate blood

by Sarah Cundiff–

New River Valley Donation Center

Blacksburg, Va., Sept. 28 – The New River Valley Donation Center: The American Red Cross New River Valley donation center is open for blood donations Friday through Wednesday. Photo: Sarah Cundiff


If you receive emails from the American Red Cross, or if you have been to a sponsored blood drive recently, you may have noticed there seems to be an urgent need for blood. But why is there such a push right now? If there hasn’t been a natural disaster or catastrophe recently, then why is there such a great need? 

To put it simply, the need is always great, partly because the supply is never abundant.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone needs blood. That means that in the time it has taken you to read this article, nearly 11 people will be in need of blood. So while the Red Cross does seek blood donations after disasters, they emphasize the daily need for new donors.

Senior Leina Greenwalt, president of the Red Cross Club at Virginia Tech, understands this demand and believes college students are in the perfect position to give.

“If you have something that you are able to give and especially since students don’t have much to give moneywise, your body makes [blood] constantly so why not give what other people don’t have,” said Greenwalt.

While the Red Cross Club at Virginia Tech sponsors blood drives on campus multiple times throughout the year, students and residents of the New River Valley can give almost anytime at the New River Valley Donation Center.

“Another thing I don’t think a lot of people know about is there’s actually a donation center in downtown Blacksburg that’s open pretty much everyday,” said Greenwalt. “It’s a permanent donation spot that people can go to everyday.”

Unfortunately for those in need, the abundance of opportunities for people to donate does not guarantee action.

A statistic from the Community Blood Center website says that only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, and according to the American Red Cross website, only three percent of those who are qualified actually do.

Generally, those who are at least 16 years old and 110 pounds are qualified to donate blood, according to the AABB website. Potential donors may also need to comply with a list of criteria that can be checked before a donation appointment. 

The process of donating blood may seem intimidating to some, but for others like Christiansburg resident Nick Huber, it’s the ideal way to help others.

“It doesn’t take up very much time at all, it costs nothing, and it can actually help save people’s lives,” said Huber. “So I think in terms of the cost versus the benefit, it’s super valuable and definitely necessary.”

It may be assumed that a large reason people do not donate is due to a fear of needles, but according to Huber, people have no need to fear, “It doesn’t hurt at all. If you’re squeamish about needles just don’t look at your arm and you won’t even know it’s happening,” said Huber. “It might be kinda weird, but it’s definitely worth it.” 

Image from full infographic that can be found here