Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.
Seth Pope and Blake Edwards have been friends since they were first-year students at Ball State University. Though Pope was an elementary education major and Edwards went for business administration, what brought them closer was their love of collecting vintage clothing.
Edwards started selling clothes in 2016 while he was in high school, but Pope didn’t start until his second year of college, when he sold vintage clothes on Snapchat.
Pope and Edwards met in 2018, and, once Pope started selling, he asked Edwards if he wanted to put together a pop-up shop.
“When that pop-up shop did well, we were like, ‘Okay, this is something we could definitely continue doing,’” Pope said. “It just sort of built from there.”
Pope and Edwards did not enjoy constantly hosting pop-up shops. They wanted something more stable where people can come in at any time. At the beginning of 2023, they decided to open a thrift shop called Well Made Vintage.
Well Made Vintage sells clothes from the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, according to their Facebook page. In terms of brands, there is a wide variety.
Pope and Edwards chose to sell clothes from these decades because of the quality of the clothes.
When Pope is not at the store, he teaches third grade at South View Elementary School.
Pope has always enjoyed working with children and helping others learn. This led him to becoming a teacher.
“It is a job that I feel like I can make a big difference in,” Pope said. “Being able to be a teacher that is young and can relate to students more than a normal teacher is a big deal to me.”
Pope’s students love the idea of him running Well Made Vintage. Every day, they come to school excited to see what Pope is wearing.
“It’s just kind of a relationship building thing for me,” Pope said.
His students even tell their parents he runs a thrift store. Parents have asked him when the shop is open, so they can bring their kids.
“I had a couple of my students come into the shop, and I have a couple more that are going to come in pretty soon,” Pope said.
Pope said being a teacher and running a store can be difficult, but having a business partner helps a lot. During school hours, Edwards can run the store, then Pope can fully be there on the weekends. If there are things Pope couldn’t get done at school, he is able to bring it to the store.
Pope’s coworkers at the school understand he works two jobs. They all do group planning to make sure everything goes smoothly.
As a teacher, he is busy trying to help each individual student. As a business owner, he is buying new items and rearranging the store.
“Being able to be comfortable in that chaos and being able to bring it back into some order is something that I’d say I’ve learned a lot from, trying to manage and host events and set up things in here,” he said.
Unlike Pope, working at Well Made Vintage is Edward’s full time job.
Edwards fell in love with thrifting at an early age. He didn’t want to miss out on cool pieces of clothing, so he would go thrifting constantly.
Pope has been thrifting for the past couple of years, and through thrifting, he found his love for selling. He started selling toward the end of 2019 because he was finding clothes that did not fit him and started posting them.
“I was finding all this cool stuff that wasn’t in my size,” Pope said. “I started just posting it on my Snapchat story and selling it to my friends."
Their clothing sizes can range anywhere from extra small to three or four extra-large. Being inclusive is very important to Pope and Edwards. They try to have clothes for any age and any size.
“For me, at first, … I was selling so that I could get more stuff for myself,” Pope said. “Once I got there, I was like ‘I really enjoy selling stuff.’”
Having a business was an important factor in getting Pope and Edwards through school.
“That’s kind of how we made our money in college,” Edwards said. “It’s what paid for my bills, what paid for my food.”
Before the location in the Village, Well Made Vintage was located on Wheeling Avenue. At the previous location, Pope and Edwards were on a month-to-month lease. They were there for two months before opening their doors in the Village.
“It was a big move for us to move our entire store when we’ve been open for a month,” Pope said, “but this ended up being a really cool spot. This is the spot that we belong in.”
They do not just sell clothes at Well Made Vintage. The owners will buy clothes from customers, and people can trade in clothes for different ones.
“That’s another cool part of vintage,” Edwards said. “You can wear whatever shirt it is for however long you want, and if [you] decide you don’t want it, you can just find someone who has clothing like you, and hopefully you got a brand-new shirt.”
Sustainability means a lot to Pope and Edwards as well. They believe shopping at thrift stores is not only helping clothes not be thrown out, but thrift stores help save the planet.
In the United States, the average person throws out 81.5 pounds of clothes each year, according to Earth.org. A gallon of water is about eight pounds, according to World Atlas. This means the amount of clothes being thrown out is equivalent to about 10 gallons of water. Approximately 11 million tons of textile waste are thrown in landfills each year, according to World Atlas.
“If you don’t buy something from a thrift shop,” Pope said, “it has a couple of other places that it goes. If no one buys it in those other places, they throw it in the landfill.”
Customers have enjoyed the store since its opening. First-year political science major Kendall Frobig said she was impressed by the clothes she saw.
“This is the perfect location for it,” Frobig said. “This is such a good collection of items that I feel like they’ll get pretty good business being here.”
Frobig acknowledged that thrifting is becoming a more common way to buy clothing. The growth of consumers buying more from secondhand stores comes from wanting to be more sustainable, according to GlobalData. She thinks this will draw more customers to the shop.
“I feel like something that’s really popular right now is thrifting and antiquing, so as more and more people find out about it, it will certainly garner more and more business.”
However, customers can do more than just shop for clothes at this vintage store. There is a couch and a television in the back of the store where customers can watch a movie or play video games.
Pope and Edwards realize there are not many places for people to hang out in Muncie, so they wanted to provide that in their store.
“I want it to be a space where people can just come hang out, maybe listen to a record, watch a VHS movie, play an old video game they used to play as a kid, just something that brings back nostalgia,” Pope said. “They can just come and be a person.”
The store has already led to fond memories for Edwards. While he and Pope were putting the store together, customers were already waiting to come in.
“They were just walking to our store, and just that was kind of like a signifier that we were making the right move,” he said.
Pope said his fondest memory was the end of their grand opening. Even though it was on a Wednesday, there was a line outside, and people enjoyed seeing all the pieces for sale.
In the future, Pope and Edwards hope to open a second location. For right now, organizing the shop and constantly changing things like the décor in order to keep the look of the shop different is the main focus.
“This is a very rough sketch of what we want it to look like in the end,” Pope said.
Well Made Vintage is open six days a week and can be found at 1614 W University Ave., Muncie, IN 47303. More information on their hours can be found on their website.
Contact Lily Jones with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Daily News welcomes thoughtful discussion on all of our stories, but please keep comments civil and on-topic. Read our full guidelines here.