The WUSA Thrift store is officially open for business.
The store, whose opening was delayed due to the pandemic, is located on the lower level of the SLC, with all items (including but not limited to clothing, bedding, and household items) priced at $10 or less.
Store manager Ashita Saxena emphasized the accessibility of the store to students. “It’s definitely a really good deal for students and that’s what we aim for, that students can get everything at affordable prices while we accomplish our goal of being sustainable,” she said. “We did not really want to go high on the profits because we wanted to be not-for-profit, so people can take part in our initiative and not burn holes in their pockets as well.”
The store accepts donations from students and tries to ensure that all the items, even those that don’t end up on the floor, are used sustainably.
“It has always been our goal to reduce whatever waste we make,” Saxena said. “We’re just trying to ensure that whatever we do, even the waste that comes from the store, is going somewhere sustainable; it’s either recycled or donated.”
Despite the bumps in the road and the lower number of students on campus during the spring term, Saxena described a very positive and involved reaction to the store’s opening.
“I would say [the reception] was so overwhelming, it was beyond our expectations. The first day of our soft launch we had some promotional campaigns going on, and we had somewhere around 60 or 70 people come in with 89 or 90 transactions, and that was when we were only open for two hours,” she said. “Yesterday the turnkey [desk] told me that they had many people asking about the store, so there are many inquiries coming in and not just to us, but to other departments, other societies, and clubs as well.”
Saxena also noted the store’s attempts to increase sustainability on campus by collaborating with other clubs and organizations to continue contributing to the cause.
“Surplus from the W Store that may have been discarded or may have just been seasonal or promotional get handed over to us and then we sell them again. Even with other clubs and societies, we’re trying to make sure that their waste is reduced in some way as well. I think it’s the overall goal of the University of Waterloo to be able to reduce waste, and as part of WUSA are just trying to help them accomplish that with little steps,” she said.
The university has previously participated in several sustainability initiatives, one of which is the UNFCC Race to Zero, where it has committed to be net-zero by 2050. Another initiative is the university’s founding of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group aiming to build, among other things, a more sustainable world by 2030.
In accordance with such goals, the university has set milestones for itself such as achieving a 60 per cent waste diversion rate by 2025. To achieve this milestone, UW has implemented efforts such as starting a PPE recycling program and conducting preliminary tracking of construction and demolition waste.
Regarding the future of the thrift store, Saxena listed several current and potential collaborations and ideas. “We want to run a sustainable fashion show, to be able to collaborate with a fashion society. [In] the lost and found department, if they have stuff they think is in good condition, we have taken that stuff too and put it up for sale in our store so that doesn’t go to waste too. And of course encouraging the students from the residences to donate their clothes, like exchange students who are here for just one term or one year and don’t have [enough] space to take all their items [when they move out].”
To readers who may not have heard about the shop, Saxena has a few words. “We have a variety of products at our store ranging for all genders, all ages, and all sizes — we have accessories, we have shoes, we have…all the essential items that people need in their daily lives. It is going to be a one-stop shop for every university student!”