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SMEAC opens Free Store

Liz Harter | Monday, September 15, 2008

If students at Saint Mary’s are looking for any gently-used clothing, shower caddies or binders, they can now get them for free at the Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition’s (SMEAC) Free Store.

SMEAC has been planning the Free Store since Dr. Louise Weber, a professor of biology and environmental studies at Warren Wilson College, spoke at Saint Mary’s during the spring semester last year.

Warren Wilson is “an almost 100 percent green college,” SMEAC public relations coordinator Jamie Thordsen said. “[Weber] gave us many tips on how we could take steps towards becoming a greener campus and one happened to be the free store.”

The Free Store is a way to get people to reuse usable items and also allows them to donate items they don’t need instead of throwing them away, she said.

SMEAC gathered many of the items in the store as students were moving out of the dorms at the end of last year.

“A lot of it [came out of the trash],” Thordsen said. “The clothes were donated, but there were binders full of paper that people threw away last year, not even in the recycling.”

Members spoke with Carrie Call, the director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement, about finding a room to house the store at the beginning of this year and were given Room 3 in the basement of LeMans Hall, which is in front of the vending machines.

The store opened for business yesterday with the first hour being open to SMEAC members only.

“This is only for the grand opening,” Thordsen said. “It’s our way of saying thanks to our club members for their support and encouraging them to be active in our club this year.”

The SMEAC hour also provided organizers with a dry run, allowing them to see how the store will run.

“It gave us enough time to change any unnecessary procedures or establish new ones as we [saw] necessary,” Thordsen said.

Students who visit the store are allowed to take anything they need as long as they check out the items with the SMEAC member working in the store. The student doesn’t have to make a donation to be able to take things, but donations are welcome whenever the store is open.

“We’re gong to have to go heavy on promoting donating because we’ve been cleared out [today],” SMEAC vice president Monica Aguirre said. “The store is going to need donations in order to keep running.”

Both officers said there were a lot of students who stopped by the store to see what it had to offer.

“I’m really surprised with the turnout,” Aguirre said.

Junior Kate Doornbos was one of the students who stopped by; she picked up a blonde wig that someone left in the dorms last year that she said she’d find a use for around Halloween.

“[I think the Free Store] is a really great idea,” she said. “I plan on coming back.”

The Free Store will be open twice a week starting this Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. and Sundays from 12-2 p.m.