Student opens thrift store in campus townhouse

Thrift 251, the newest used-clothing store in the Siloam Springs area, is where you would least expect it: Brooke Bowlin’s townhouse.

Bowlin explained how the setup was a result of her desire to run a small fashion-related business. “The townhouse was a means to an end,” Bowlin said. “The idea for a thrift store came first. I have always been interested in fashion. I’ve played around with different ideas in which I could do a fashion related business in the last year but had never landed on one that worked for me, or that I thought would be feasible on a college campus.”

Earlier this year, Bowlin tried another method of selling clothing by advertising her sale items on Instagram but had little success. Bowlin then turned her attention to a popular consignment store chain, Plato’s Closet, and tried her luck there. “I think I took 40 articles of clothing, if not more, and they took maybe 10, so I didn’t get that much out of it,” Bowlin said. “I was like, ‘Here’s a problem, there’s definitely a way to do this better.’”

Bowlin explained how her thrift store is low-risk for students. “When someone gives me clothes, they have the opportunity to get it back at the end of the semester if it doesn’t sell, so they can try selling it, or just take it back into their possession so they don’t lose anything.”

Bowlin made it very clear that her goal is not only to sell the clothes she to JBU students, but also to be an avenue for students to get rid of clothing they don’t want. The best part is she isn’t picky. “As far as what I look for, the trendier and the nicer it is the better just because it is more likely to sell,” she said. “I really don’t discriminate. The only thing I don’t take is specific event t-shirts.” Bowlin pays students five dollars for shorts and t-shirts and 10 dollars for jeans and dresses. She said the only tricky item is shoes, and those are priced on a case-by-case basis.

“Pricing is always hard, because it is a little trial and error,” Bowlin said. “We’ll see if my pricing system will work.” The reason Bowlin wants to keep the prices mostly fixed is so customers know how much to expect in return for their clothing. Bowlin said her main goal is not to make a good profit but to help students get rid of clothing they don’t want and to have fun while doing it. “I did it because I thought it would be fun and I enjoy things like this, and it’s just a perk that I get money,” Bowlin said. Bowlin and her housemates are eager to welcome buyers and sellers alike into their home to make JBU students’ wildest fashion dreams come true. Thrift 251 is now open for business, and those looking to buy or sell can contact Bowlin at: BowlinB@jbu.edu.