The Spartan Trader, an all-purpose consignment shop for oddities and household goods on the UNC-Greensboro campus, closed last Saturday, leaving those seeking to rent a bicycle or buy used clothing with one less option in the area.
The store opened four or five years ago, says Samantha Miller, an entrepreneurship student at the Bryan School of Business working at the store. Spartan Traders is part of the school’s business program and gives students real-world experience in running a retail establishment, she said.
“It started out as a consignment store for student artwork,” Miller said. “We had pottery, paintings and posters that students made, but it really wasn’t the right market, because who wants to pay $30 for a wooden bowl when you’re in college in a dorm?”
The store was located near the corner of Spring Garden and Aycock streets on the first floor of Spring Garden Apartments, and even though it was open to the larger Greensboro community, its target market was UNCG.
“About two or three years ago, we decided to become a resale store, where we get gently-used clothing items and accessories and sell them for fairly low prices,” Miller said. “It’s been very convenient for students. They’ve really liked it once they’ve realized what we were.”
The store had been having a “closing” sale, and a reporter, who visited a few days before the door shut for good, found very few things left. A rack of clothes, a shelf with some housewares on it, a cooler of soft drinks behind the counter and a few other odds and ends remain. Even the changing booth has been dismantled and sold.
Miller said that even though the store was popular with students, there was never enough traffic to make it economically viable.
“Once people found out what we were, they started to come in, but over time, it wasn’t quite enough for the program,” Miller said. “We’re an internship program for the Bryan School, and we don’t necessarily pay rent to the school because we’re a program. Now they’ve found someone who’s willing to pay rent, so the store is closing down. We’re all very sad about it.”
Miller said that the store was started by Dr. Diane Welsh, director of the entrepreneurship program at the Bryant School, as an outside learning environment for students.
“We have some accounting and finance majors come in, and they learn how to run the background finances,” Miller said. “Marketing students come in and help set up our booths in the EUC to sell our products and come up with ideas for posters and other outlets for marketing.”
The store carries a variety of products, but certain ones have remained popular over the years.
“We do tend to keep snack items and such, which is great for the students who live in this dorm or who are passing by,” Miller said. “We used to have a machine for coffee and tea, which was great in the winter. Mostly we sold clothing items though; that was our big thing.”
The store also rented bicycles and kitchen utensils to students, according to Miller.
“It’s somewhat like a thrift store in the sense that you might not always walk in and see exactly what you want right away, but if you’re willing to look around and dig a little bit, you’re going to find something,” Miller said. “I’ve found several great deals myself.”
Besides great deals, various odd items have come through the door of the store over the years, says Miller.
“We’ve gotten all sorts of stuff,” Miller said. “At one point, we were renting vacuum cleaners and pots and pans. We’ve had everything from track lighting to laundry detergent to used books.”