Students search for unique pieces from one of many vendors at the Gamecock Vintage Market. (Photos by Madeline Hager/Carolina News and Reporter)
Local businesses and a USC student organization have teamed up to bring sustainable clothes to campus amid the popularity of vintage clothing.
On a Thursday in late September, vendors lined the front of the Russell House student union selling everything from racks of graphic tees, records and hats, to belts, shoes and jackets.
Dozens of student and local businesses showcased their classics while students dug through piles of retro finds, hopping from booth to booth to get the best stuff.
This is the second time market host Thread Affair has collaborated with a University of South Carolina club, USC Fashion Board, to host the Gamecock Vintage Market.
“I’m pretty big into thrifting,” said freshman shopper Andrew Mims. “And I like it ’cause there’s not really that many stores close to campus like this.”
Thread Affair helps bring local, statewide, and out-of-state clothing vendors to various pop-up locations around Columbia, addressing a hole in the market.
Thread Affair’s owners also have a popular storefront, called Throwback Outpost on Beltline Boulevard in Forest Acres.
“The on-campus markets are great because, obviously, we get the student population,” said Nicolette Bryan, co-owner of Throwback Outpost. “There’s nowhere that’s going to get more traffic than Greene Street in all of Columbia.”
Bryan said she hopes to keep the relationship with USC’s Fashion Board going.
“There’s no good markets in Columbia for this. Like, there’s no vintage markets,” Bryan said.
This is the same idea USC’s Fashion Board president Sophia Dudley had when she saw a similar market event at UNC Charlotte.
From there, Dudley worked with co-market organizer and USC alum, Caleb Hendrix, to get the market on campus.
“It’s something we don’t see a lot,” Dudley said. “Normally, if a college town is having a market, it’s somewhere off campus.”
Hendrix not only helps organize the market but also owns Devine Vintage, an online secondhand store.
Hendrix said “being able to allow 30 local and statewide vendors to come and make money and provide cheap and good-for-the-environment clothing to the students here on campus” is why he does it.
The student clientele definitely has paid off. Dudley said she was one of many vendors with record sales during the September market.
Dudley has an online store, Super Thrifty, that opened up the world of vintage clothes for her. She was finding so many interesting things that she didn’t want to stop thrifting.
“Let’s start on Instagram, and let’s just post the things that we want to sell so we can keep going back and shopping,” Dudley decided.
It wasn’t easy, but her small business quickly turned into a spot at Columbia’s Saturday morning Soda City Market on Main Street.
“It took a lot of investment, honestly,” Dudley admitted, “Like, I didn’t anticipate as much as I ended up having to spend. That was probably the biggest hump to get over was getting those licenses. I don’t know, it’s just scary.”
Super Thrifty gave Dudley the experience with market organization to help her grow the vintage market at USC. She’s writing the blueprints for the market to become a part of the USC Fashion Board organization.
Freshman Mika Bismas said the market brings uniqueness to campus.
“I want to get into thrifting more, so this is really exciting to see,” Bismas said.
Logan Gryslow is a vendor at the USC market who owns Soda City Thrifts.
“We source all our clothing locally and try to keep our prices as low as we can since we know that in the vintage market so many people upcharge, Gryslow said. “You can find a T-shirt that has an $80 price tag and it’s been worn by hundreds of people. And we just try to really relate with the students and keep all our prices low.”
Freshman Mac McCabe thinks the market prices were reasonable.
“You can bargain with them and get a good price,” he said.
Gryslow said Soda City Thrifts was started by one of his fraternity brothers and passed on to him.
“We try to keep it with people who are really into thrifting, who have a good eye, good communication, someone who’s kind of in it not for the money but for the thrifting purpose of it,” Gryslow said.
Along with being sustainable and affordable, Gryslow’s favorite part about thrifting is finding cool pieces and sharing them with people.
“I take pride in walking around campus in a cool fit,” he said. “My biggest thing is being unique and trying to stick out as much as possible.”
Students could have an upcoming opportunity to shop a Thread Affair market – in Five Points.
“I don’t know if it’s for-sure happening, but it’s kind of in the works,” Bryan said.