By Olivia Errico
BENNINGTON – On April 2, the Bennington campus thrift store, Thrift & Public Apparel (TAPA), opened to the college community. While everyone loves a good deal on good clothes there is a lot more to the project to be excited about than just budget-friendly fashion.
As Erika Lygren of the Bennington Environmental Action Group (BEAG) explained, the thrift store started as a sustainability initiative.
“Matt Scott and Killian Walsh from Student Life met with BEAG last spring term saying that they wanted to deal with some of the overwhelming amounts of waste that students create at the end of term,” Erika wrote, “Anyone who's seen the end-of-term common rooms knows exactly what I mean - there's piles and piles of stuff and it was just getting thrown out at the time.”
At the end of the spring term, BEAG members collected all the clothing, shoes, furniture, books, and room decor that could be salvaged from each house’s free pile and moved it to the Noyes basement.
During the course of the next year Student Life staff members sorted through the objects in the Noyes basement, getting rid of anything that was damaged and couldn’t be re-sold. According to Matt Scott, this sorting yielded over 1,400 articles of sellable clothing, including 86 winter coats and 80 pairs of shoes. This initial inventory is restocked from BEAG’S collection at the end of the term, and from students who bring unwanted goods to the thrift store. There’s an incentive to bring clothing because for every two items you donate you get a free item.
All money earned by the thrift store currently goes towards paying the student workers who run it. “Beyond that, any more money goes to the school, but on the condition that if we need to take out cash for something- maybe renovating a new space- that the school will fund it,” says Erika.
A renovation is part of BEAG’s vision for the future of the thrift store. “I’d like to see it become an integrated part of the planning for renovating Commons,” wrote Erika. Matt Scott emphasized the development of TAPA as a part of a goal of creating a culture on campus of more conscious consumption. “Ultimately, I’d like it to stem the need for free piles in the first place,” he said.