On Oct. 26-28, Ball State University students mingled inside the Warehouse below the Village Promenade, sifting through clothes to find something they love. Students could find all types of clothes — all thrifted and chosen by Ball State’s Fashion Merchandising Association (FMA) members.
Maureen Kirk, Ball State third-year fashion merchandising major and FMA president, said hundreds of students attended and described the pop-up shop as “chaotic but so amazing.”
“One of our biggest events for fundraising is the pop-up shop,” Kirk said. “This event is basically where we gather a bunch of clothing from people around campus and our family and friends … and we create a fully functioning retail store.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FMA could not host the pop-up shop at its current level until 2021. Prior to then, it was held in the Atrium on campus. While this was the organization’s second year hosting the event in the Village, Kirk said there were some major differences from last year.
“Last year, it was a very fast turnaround for setup because we found out pretty late into the semester that we were going to be able to do it,” she said. “This year, it’s been a lot better because we had packed an outline of what we did last year. We carried over a lot of things we did, which made it easier, especially if you already know about the space.”
Club members began setting up for the three-day event the day before it opened, and Kirk said they ran into “some bumps in the road” but were able to easily open the pop-up shop Wednesday.
“It was so fun to see everyone’s expressions and reactions,” Kirk said. “Especially [first-years] and new members, they don’t really know what to expect until they see it for the first time.”
Prior to the opening of the pop-up shop, Kirk said FMA was expecting around 600 customers. At the end of the day Oct. 28, the organization saw 500 customers in three days and raised $2,500.
Jessica Wolfe, Ball State third-year fashion merchandising major and FMA’s National Retail Federation student ambassador, was most excited to interact with customers and help them find clothes they love.
“I look forward to seeing their reactions to what we’ve done and what we’ve worked towards,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing the setup and how customers are going to interact with it.”
Jakota Fisher, second-year fashion industry studies major, was one of the customers at the pop-up shop and said he enjoyed it so much he came back a second time.
“It’s a great way to shop sustainably, and it’s close,” he said. “And they have cute things donated by a lot of other college students.”
During his visits to FMA’s pop-up shop, Fisher bought two sweaters, two shirts and three tank tops. He heard about the event from his friends who are involved in the organization. He also said he lives in the Village Promenade, so it was convenient for him to support the club.
While Kirk considers the shop a success, it was not without its challenges. The biggest issue with the shop was getting the WiFi to work, which they needed to utilize their payment services. Once they overcame that, she said everything went smoothly.
Kirk said she and her fellow FMA members heard positive reviews from a lot of the customers.
“This really just helps FMA because we are able to show people that thrifting is a good option and also that the fashion merchandising program exists,” Kirk said. “And that we can be bigger than what we might be known for on-campus.”
Wolfe believes FMA’s members have backgrounds that helped the pop-up shop succeed, specifically with jobs they’ve worked before. She said the majority of their members have worked in retail but never in the position they had with the three-day store.
“It’s really exciting to just be able to file that knowledge to the pop-up shop because in retail, you’re probably going to be lower on the chain,” Wolfe said, “but with the pop-up shop, you get to take charge, and everyone’s ideas are so welcome.”
Avery Martin, Ball State second-year fashion merchandising major and FMA’s secretary, said club members put a lot of hard work and time into the fundraiser this year, meeting every week to plan for it. During the build-up for the shop, Martin was in charge of the promotions team, spreading the word through social media.
She posted on FMA’s Instagram and TikTok accounts prior to the event, which is also how Fisher heard about the pop-up shop.
“I’ve just heard a lot of [people saying], ‘It’s so cute,’ and compliments on all the clothes,” Martin said. “We’ve been getting so many clothes. We had to restock, and it’s amazing to see how many people donated.”
Martin said she believes the pop-up shop is setting FMA up for success, and it’s something the organization should make a tradition.
“It just shows what fashion merchandising students can do,” she said. “We can make a whole store in three days with a theme, and I think it’s so fun.”
While the pop-up shop is the organization’s largest event, Kirk said they also have smaller fundraisers such as sticker and poster sales in the Atrium or other places on campus. In the future, she said she hopes members can create other large fundraising events.
Kirk also said she has high hopes for the organization’s future, with members pitching new ideas and testing the limits they set for themselves.
“I want people to be able to experiment with new events that are really big … and work with other clubs like Professional Design Society, Women in Business and other business clubs as well,” Kirk said. “I just want us to be able to expand on different ideas and not limit ourselves.”
Contact Maya Wilkins with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mayawilkinss.