For many cash-strapped, transportation-limited UNC-Greensboro students looking for cheap clothes, the advent of Spartan Trader is a game changer. Located close to Spring Garden Apartments on 1540 Spring Garden Street, the small, sustainable resale store, is a hidden gem on campus.
The concept for the new Spartan Trader arose to solve the issue of what to do with items students have left behind in their dorms during the summer.
While some students may attempt to retrieve their lost items, many don’t bat an eye at the discovery of forgotten shirts, shorts, accessories or cookware because these items are generally replaceable.
Originally, Spartan Trader was an art consignment store created by Dr. Diane Welsh of The Bryan Business School in 2012.
However, as store-owner Melissa Rinehart explained, over time, “We weren’t being sustainable, so we had to come up with a different business plan. Over the summer, we got together with the recycling department, and, in exchange for free labor to help them sort through what students leave in their dorms at the end of the 2015 semester, we got first pick of items to use as our starting inventory in the store.”
Upon examination of the inventory in the store, one would see an array of stylish and name-brand clothes, bags and jewelry as well as practical items such as vacuums, cookware and room decorations. In addition to having a diverse selection, all items are just about on par with chain-brand thrift stores.
“Our prices are really reasonable,” said Rinehart, “some of the most expensive items are the coats; the most expensive around $30… jeans stop at $11 and there isn’t a dress over $20.”
Rinehart emphasized that the prices remain low as the store is sustained by items purchased.
A local, on-campus small business, Spartan Trader is about providing students affordable clothing and dorm items. Profits made from items bought go directly back to the store to pay for maintenance, employee salary expenses and for every item sold, $.50 goes back to the recycling department.
Spartan Trader has also partnered with The Bryan Business School to provide student employees registered for Business 450 a three-hour internship credit for 10 hours of work every week. Employees are also comprised of students in Business 130, although, as it is an introductory class, they are only required to work five hours throughout the fall semester.
“The goal of this internship is to teach students what it takes to run a small retail business,” said Rinehart. The tasks students perform are, “Paperwork, chores, keeping it [the store] clean, customer service, which is a big deal,” explained Rinehard. “I stress [customer service] with my interns a lot because, you know, the only person who can fire you when you’re in retail is your customer.”
Spartan Trader is currently accepting donations, as a shortage is likely to occur as their inventory cannot be replenished until the end of spring semester 2016. “Drop them off at the store; I have donation receipts for tax purposes. We will come pick up items if they are clean, folded and in at most five to six trash bags full, we’ll come and pick them up at no charge,” Rinehart said.
Spartan Trader’s goal is ultimately to remain open in order to be able to continue providing students cheap clothing and small business experience. To attain this goal, the store is making an effort to actively spread the word about Spartan Trader through flyers, social media, campus media and setting up booths on different parts of campus every weekday.
As for the locations of each day, Rinehart said, “On Mondays we go to the dining hall, Tuesdays we go to the Bryan Building, Wednesdays we go to the EUC, Thursdays we go to Stone and Fridays we go to the Gatewood art building from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. The kids are really interested, the problem is that a lot of them haven’t heard of Spartan Trader.”
After speaking with Rinehart, this writer purchased two collared shirts, one flannel and a pair of shorts for less than $37.
Considering gas money, time and energy expended going downtown to Goodwill or other name brand consignment stores, Spartan Trader proves to be particularly cost-effective and accessible for students living on campus.
“The last two weeks have been very successful… So far so good. The dean of the business school has been very happy with our progress,” Rinehart said. “We have a good chance at keeping the store open for spring 2016,” said Rinehart.
An opportunity for even lower than offered prices will be at the staff and faculty open house on Sept. 15 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Regular store hours are 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon-5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The store only accepts cash and Spartan Cash. For more information about Spartan Trader, contact Rinehart at firstname.lastname@example.org.