Success Story: Carolina Thrift

Student-run thrift shop creates a less-is-more solution

Published April 13, 2018

As each spring semester comes to an end, most college students are eager to move on to summer internships, jobs and activities. Packing and moving items collected throughout the year can become a burden as most students would rather leave with less – including appliances, clothing, furniture and even school supplies. However, leaving these items behind can create copious amounts of waste. According to Boston College, the average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year.

One University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student organization is ready to provide a sustainable solution to this challenge: Carolina Thrift. As UNC’s first student-run thrift shop, Carolina Thrift works to reduce senseless waste that accumulates at the end of each school year, ultimately reducing waste and saving money.

 

640 POUNDS OF SOLID WASTE ARE PRODUCED BY THE AVERAGE COLLEGE STUDENT EACH YEAR

 

14 CAROLINA STUDENTS OVERSEE THRIFT SHOP OPERATION AT UNC


4/23/18
CAROLINA THRIFTS BEGINS ITS COLLECTION EFFORT


8/18/18
INAUGURAL SALE KICKS OFF

Startup Results Across UNC-Chapel Hill


521
UNC-affiliated startups launched since 1958


90,000+
LIVES IMPROVED BY UNC SOCIAL STARTUPS SINCE 2013


70,225
jobs created by UNC startups (As of Dec. 2017)


84%
of active UNC-affiliated startups are headquartered in North Carolina

The Innovate Carolina Network can connect you to a variety of funding sources, including research grants, awards, competitions, fellowships, investment groups and venture capital.

“We saw a need to address the waste generated each year by developing a better system for collection,” says sophomore co-founder and co-director Carlyann Edwards. “As student entrepreneurs, we want to encourage socially responsible consumerism and provide the UNC-Chapel Hill area with financial relief, while building Carolina’s community.”

Although there is a current system in place by Carolina Housing for on-campus collections, nothing exists for students living off campus. The four student founders, Kent Andrews, Carlyann Edwards, Stephen Lapp and Duncan Richey saw the need for an off-campus collection process and created a sustainable solution – a collection process combined with an annual Carolina Thrift sale.

To get their solution off the ground, they relied on Innovate Carolina’s Dreamers-Who-Do sponsorship, which helps students move their ideas forward and turn novel concepts into  concrete solutions. Dreamers-Who-Do sponsorships provide financial support for student projects and programs that help UNC-Chapel Hill students learn what it means to be innovators and entrepreneurs. It gives them opportunities to put their insights into practice.

“We are so excited to be recipients of Innovate Carolina’s Dreamers-Who-Do sponsorship,” says Edwards. “Without it, we would not have been able to take those first steps to create Carolina Thrift.”

A team of 14 Carolina students oversee the organization, with each member bringing a specific area of expertise, including business, collection, event management, marketing, operations and sustainability. Carol Hee, clinical associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, serves as the group’s advisor.

Carolina Thrift will target their collection efforts to begin Monday, April 23. Its first, annual sale will be held August 18 during UNC’s Week of Welcome, when freshman arrive for fall semester. A detailed collection schedule and map will be available on their website by April 17.

We saw a need to address the waste generated each year by developing a better system for collection. As student entrepreneurs, we want to encourage socially responsible consumerism and provide the UNC-Chapel Hill area with financial relief, while building Carolina’s community.

Carlyann Edwards

“Ultimately, we’d like for the annual shopping event to become self-sustaining,” says Edwards. “Eventually, we’d also like to create a sustainability fund for on-campus organizations to explore their own environmental endeavors.”

Carolina Thrift also hopes to eventually develop a partnership with Carolina Housing to combine efforts. It has also discussed the potential efforts of holding more than one sale each year and setting up a permanent thrift shop on campus.  

For more information on how to donate, participate in donation collection, attend the annual sale or volunteer, visit the Carolina Thrift website.