Free Store prepares students for winter
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said that the Office of Sustainability and Housing and Residence Life were not collecting items because of their high inventory. However, that is not accurate. They do not have a lot of inventory left, because it gets donated due to lack of storage. The mistake has since been corrected.
A line of students stood outside the UMD Express Store on Nov. 1, 2018, at 3 p.m. waiting to get inside the Free Store and “buy” three free winter items.
The line of students was so long that Jonna Korpi, Office of Sustainability activities coordinator, and one of the people running the store, had to stand by the door and let a few people in at a time.
The Free Store is a new event that has started in Fall 2018 by the Office of Sustainability and Housing and Residence Life.
“There was a need to do something more,” Amanda Perrin, assistant director for Residence Life, said.
The first store was on move-in day for students living on campus on Aug. 21, 2018. Both times the two departments have done this, there has been a theme for the free items.
For the Free Store on move-in day, all items “for sale for free” were things that students perhaps forgot to bring for their dorms or apartments, such as kitchen appliances, rugs and mirrors. The success of that Free Store led to this one in November.
“Almost everything was gone at the end,” Korpi said of the first Free Store in August.
Heading into November, this second Free Store was all about winter gear: jackets, sweaters, hats and more. The jackets and sweaters were sorted on different racks by their size and had a sign above the rack of clothing indicating the size. This was done to make it easier for students to navigate the room and find things that fit them faster.
According to Perrin, there was a group of UMD students who wanted to help add to the Free Store inventory.
The Free Store got their free items from donations people have made, along with their connection to different groups on campus. Soks Co. was one of these groups. This sock-selling company ran by UMD students donated 31 pairs of socks to the Free Store, according to Perrin.
“They donated 31 pairs of socks to this, which is pretty cool,” Perrin said. “Some are patterned. They are different sizes and really soft. Austin Nelson [one of those students] reached out to us and said ‘Hey, you’re doing this thing. Can we donate?’ and I said ‘Yeah of course.’ It’s students donating to students.”
The Office of Sustainability and Housing and Residence Life only collects donated items from people at the university, according to Perrin. Currently, they do not have storage so any leftover items get donated to other campus groups and non-profits.
“We don’t have the space to store all of it,” Perrin said.
One of the students shopping for some free winter clothing was first-year student Lexie Ward, who was brought to the Free Store from a tweet from the Office of Sustainability.
“When I saw it, I was like ‘Oh sweet. That’s today,’” Ward said.
“I think this is really cool,” Ward said. “I didn’t really have anything in mind. I was thinking about getting something that would be warm.”
Getting warm clothes is exactly what she did. Ward found a jacket in her size and was planning on getting a scarf and a hat as well. She said she would definitely go to the Free Store if it happens again.
According to Perrin, the success of the two Free Stores and the positive reaction from students make it very likely that there will be more throughout the academic year.