Bonner Pop-Up Thrift Shop

If you were walking outside the Brower Student Center this past Monday, November 7, you might have noticed some activity on the Green Lawn. This was the Bonner Pop-Up Thrift shop, a bi-semester, non-profit event hosted by The Thrift Project, a Bonner Environmental Division site, to benefit the Rescue Mission of Trenton. Monday’s pop-up shop was the second one this semester.

I had the opportunity to chat with Alyssa Herrerra, the former site leader, and Khadijah Yasin, who along with Moses Yasin, is the new site leader. The two shared some exciting details about the life of the site and its impact on the Rescue Mission of Trenton. The Rescue Mission of Trenton is a non-profit organization serving the needs of some of the members of the Trenton community. It provides services such as a soup kitchen, shelter, education, job skills training, life skills and work therapy and substance abuse treatment. In order to sustain its efforts, the Rescue Mission has a thrift shop on its premises, at which it sells clothing and furniture. The clothes sold at Monday’s thrift shop were from the Rescue Mission, with all the money raised going back to fund its programs.

Herrera shared with me that The Thrift Project was not always as big as it is now. In fact, it only recently earned the position of an official site of the Bonner Institute. Although Bonner has been involved with the Rescue Mission for about 7 years now, there was a time when The Thrift Project was an individual project of one of the Bonner Scholars. Herrera also shares that getting it to be approved as a full-fledged site entailed meeting twice a week, and visiting the Rescue Mission once a week. It currently is part of the Environmental Division, but it wasn’t always. As it was under her lead that it received this status, Herrera feels very proud, calling it a baby and her pet project, as her role in it changes, with it under new leadership.

Khadijah Yasin, who along with Moses Yasin, is now the site leader, described her hopes for The Thrift Project, as ones of expansion. Herrera sees the pop-up as huge, thinking of where it has come from, as only a single table and a cardboard box, when she joined, to where it is today, with three tables and multiple trunks and a rack. Yasin, on the other hand, sees it as having so much more potential. She hopes to get it more involved with other organizations in order to reach more people and have a greater impact. In addition to the pop-up shop, The Thrift Project participates in events in Princeton such as the Punk Rock Flea Market and Communiversity, as well as a clothing swap.  Through these events, Yasin hopes to achieve the site’s goals and missions.

The site’s goal is to educate people about the environmental impact of buying clothing. As part of the Environmental division, this project specifically aims to encourage upcycling, and reduce consumption of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process of clothing. In order to educate people, the project works on connecting with them at the a) individual, b) community and c) organizational level. The pop-up shop works on the individual level, while the Punk Rock Flea Market works on the community level and Communiversity, on the organizational level. The efforts of the Thrift Project and Rescue Mission of Trenton have been so successful that they even broke the Guinness World Record for clothing donations last year, with almost 180,000 pounds collected. By connecting with other organizations through Communiversity, they were able to reach more people and gain their support. This past pop-up shop even raised over $1000, breaking their own record and enabling them to provide more support to the Rescue Mission.

As for gaining support, Yasin asked that I reach out to readers to donate clothing as the Thrift Project will be accepting donations for the next pop-up shop early in the spring semester. She and Herrera also said they would love more support and involvement from the students.

The Thrift Project hosts amazing pop-up shops, and it’s a very exciting project to be a part of. I’ve gone there twice now, and I’ve found some amazing pieces, including a pair of Marc Jacob’s boots for $5. But, beyond the things you will find, the volunteers who work on making the Thrift Project possible are so excited for what they do, and any support they receive will be greatly appreciated. That being said, you can also follow them on Instagram @thethriftprojecttcnj, use the hashtag #thriftprojecttcnj and follow them on Facebook, The Thrift Project.

I hope to see you at the next pop-up shop!