2/6/2016 8:23:34 AM

Free Store Opens Doors and Minds

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

By Kristen Bossio '16

While she was studying abroad in Uganda, Alana Strassfield ’14 made an interesting observation. She noticed that people living in the African nation were wearing t-shirts that came from places that they had never visited and most likely would never see. This realization prompted Strassfield to take action to raise awareness of conscious consumerism when she returned to Siena.

“These items that we donate, and that we think are doing really good, are actually sold in second hand markets for a dollar or two,” said Strassfield. Instead of letting other people profit from donations, Strassfield decided to start a second-hand store at Siena. With that, the Free Store was born.

Siena’s Free Store operates as a thrift store with an unbeatable sticker price – free. Students can donate anything that they are no longer using.

“It’s right on campus so you don’t have to worry about throwing things away that you don’t want or finding a place to donate them,” said Maeve McCullouch ’16, another student who worked hard to make the Free Store a reality.

Students are able to shop around the small store in Hines Hall and take whatever items they need or want, at no cost.

“I’ve picked up a shirt and I actually also dropped off a shirt,” said Katherine Frye ’15, a student who has been to the store several times since it opened in March. “It’s a shirt that I wasn’t using anymore but it was still in good condition so I thought somebody might want it. Actually, I’ve been back and it’s gone, so I’m guessing somebody did.”

Students who come to the Free Store may or may not leave with what they came in looking for, but they’re sure to find some interesting items. The store is home to a variety of merchandise, including clothes, books, body washes, jewelry and even an octopus made on a 3D printer. Students are able to take items even if they do not donate anything themselves.

“I think that people are really into thrifting right now. I think thrift stores and second hand stores are very popular, especially amongst young people,” Strassfield said, adding that it is a good way to build community on campus. “[The Free Store] is good to promote this idea of internal recycling.”

Launching the Free Store was an entirely student-led initiative. Without the drive and determination of the students, Siena’s first thrift-style store would have never happened. Free Store founders believe that it will be around for years to come.

Check out these video news reports about the Free Store by Kristen Bossio '16 and Angelina Castro '16. Both reports were done as projects in Siena's Television Production Workshop course.




Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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