A thrift store is coming to the UBC campus

By Natalie Chu

Project Imagine UBC is a non-profit organization run by a group of students dedicated to implementing projects that merge design with sustainability. Currently, the team is working to bring the ‘Get Thrifty’ store, to life. To learn more, we spoke with Rain Chen, one of the founders of Project Imagine.

Fast Fashion

New trends bring new styles to store windows and into our wardrobes. Retailers are constantly updating their clothing racks, and manufacturers are constantly producing clothes to fill them. Endless large-scale production means more resources and energy are being used to keep up with the latest fashion craze. It also means that our closets are often full of clothes that are worn just a handful of times before they are forgotten about or thrown away.

Chen acknowledged that “this is a fairly linear process of goods. Clothes are manufactured, sold, worn, and then thrown away. But, recycling used clothing and household items creates a more sustainable consumption cycle. And this is the idea behind the ‘Get Thrifty’ store. We want students to have a place to recycle and reuse clothes on campus”.

A store for students, run by students

After deciding a thrift store would benefit students and decrease UBC’s environmental impact, Rain Chen decided to put her idea to the test. Project Imagine held their first pop-up shop, to see if students would make use of a campus thrift store. The pop-up was hugely successful, and Project Imagine decided to go all-in on creating a permanent thrift store.

In March 2019, Project Imagine asked students to vote in the AMS referendum, on whether or not they would support an annual, refundable fee of $0.95. This fee would go towards the development of a permanent, on-campus thrift store: Get Thrifty. The fee will be collected until Get Thrifty is deemed self-sustainable by the AMS and Project Imagine. With the majority of students voting yes, Get Thrifty has been able to make considerable progress. The UBC Life Building has already been chosen as the store’s permanent location.

Get Thrifty is completely volunteer-run, and their inventory is built from student donations. “In collaboration with the student residences on campus, we plan to have donation bins in residences and regular pickups. UBC is really focusing on zero waste, so we’re working with them to prevent the waste of used clothing and household goods,” says Chen.

Chen explained that “in addition to sustainability, Get Thrifty will prioritize design in the development of the store. Sustainability isn’t always that beautiful, but we want to change that. We hope to overturn the stereotype of thrift stores being dingy and messy. Our vision from the beginning was that we would have a space to display student art, play student music, and highlight what students are doing on campus. We have a bunch of ideas of how students can help design and build the space each year.”

Project Timeline

Project Imagine aims to complete phase one of construction at the end of January, where they will have a soft-open of ‘Get Thrifty’ and run at a reduced capacity of two days a week. Phase two of construction will take place over the summer, and the store’s grand re-opening is set to take place in September 2020.

Get involved

Project Imagine is currently looking for volunteers and student models for their Instagram account – and welcomes all students. If you are interested in volunteering or have questions about the process, send an email to admin@projectimagine.ca. For more information about Project Imagine and Get Thrifty, head to the Project Imagine website.

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