Without any explanation, except, perhaps, a toe-tapping hip-hop anthem, thrift store shopping or “thrifting,” as many have come to know it, has emerged as a popular alternative to traditional clothing options.
College Carousel Retail and Resale Store, Blacksburg’s newest addition to College Avenue, is bringing the movement to Virginia Tech’s doorstep.
College Carousel is run by Brittany Christain and husband and wife Tara Marciniak and Ricky McGuire. Originally located on South Main Street, College Carousel was opened in the summer of 2009. Since then, the thrift store moved to a location across from Blacksburg Hospital, and now finally onto College Avenue.
“My husband and I were looking for something, and it happened to be at the end of the school year," Marciniak said. "I don’t remember what it was, but we were on Craigslist. We looked at the furniture section and saw all these listed items: Ikea things, Target things, ‘never been opened, come take it out of my apartment,’ and we thought, ‘Wow, it would be really smart for somebody to go buy all that stuff, hoard it, and then go sell it again.'
"We started thinking maybe we can be that somebody.”
The couple began bringing in inventory, and before long they had a location ready to set up their business in.
“We just started storing things in our basement for a long time, and then we decided, ‘We’re going to do it’” Marciniak said.
With two location changes to date, College Carousel is excited to call College Avenue home.
“Even in our second location, our main demographic... was women from 18 to 24, so we thought we might as well go closer to where they are," Marciniak said.
Laureen Blakemore, the director of Downtown Blacksburg Inc., an association of downtown merchants and property owners, shared the positive sentiments.
“We think it’s a great addition,” Blakemore said. “(College Carousel) is a great value to students and community members alike. They have a great variety in there, and we’re always excited to see another retail vendor here”
College Carousel hopes to establish itself as a different type of thrift store option.
“I feel that if your item is donated rather than bought, (competitors) shouldn’t have the price range they do," Marciniak said. "We buy our furniture, it’s not donated, and I feel like our pricing is still pretty gosh-darn good compared to our competitors.”
Marciniak expressed some visions for the future.
“Now that we’re down here instead of across from the hospital, we’re trying to get more into refurbishing items," she said.
The store hopes to target its new, larger clientele of students by providing them with specific benefits such as its planned half-priced clothing sale, happening on March.
“Personally, from having to be in the dorm my first year, and I did graduate from Tech, I was there for five years, I always thought it was silly to have students come here and buy everything brand new, and toss it when they're done” Marciniak explained.
The message of small treasures going out and coming back around defines the the store.
“It’s a carousel,” added Christian.
College Carousel Retail and Resale is located above Souvlaki at 203 College Avenue and is open for business Wednesday through Sunday.
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