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Thrift Sale

Venture name:

Thrift Sale


Barry, Columbia, Penn State, Syracuse, UCLA, UT-A, Wellesley

Date and time:

Of Planning/Prep:
Various 1-3 hour sessions of sorting & pricing in the weeks leading up to the event
Of Sale:
(UCLA) May – they do it once a year, some do it once a semester


Event Venture (typically)

Chapters collect donated clothes or acquire sponsorships, like UCLA and their sponsors Nasty Gal and Vidakush, then sell the clothes/accessories on campus. (Some Chapters provide donated bagels, donuts, and coffee at their sale. Some Chapters also hold a raffle with gift cards for prizes)

Some ways that Chapters collect donated clothes include: getting in touch with their school (usually the housing department) about whether they can take the clothing from the lost and found in the laundry room, creating a competition among fraternities and sororities to see who can donate the most clothes – they give a prize to the biggest donor, they check Craigslist and other community websites to see if people are giving away clothing in the neighborhood, they collect costumes after Halloween and store them for next year, and they ask local churches or community centers if the Chapter members could make an announcement or leave a bin to collect clothes.

(UCLA) “Thrift Sale is an annual event Nourish UCLA puts on in the spring that is akin to a clothing rummage sale. In recent years, Nourish has been able to get donations from local and national companies like Nasty Gal and VidaKush. The event is put on in the campus’ main plaza that is a huge point of traffic for students and visitors. Thrift Sale has been popular and successful in large because of the great donations we are able to get and the general appeal of shopping for a good deal. There is also definitely a social aspect of Thrift Sale; its located in a highly frequented space, the experience is social (shoppers come and enjoy the event with friends), and the popularity of the event is in part due to media exposure and hype via word of mouth.”


Chapters marketed the Thrift Sale through:

  • Facebook & Twitter
  • Online flyers
  • Flyers in school halls, bathrooms, and high traffic areas on campus
  • YouTube videos
  • School websites/announcements/”Happenings” calendar
  • Ads in the school newspaper or local newspapers – both for donations and the event
  • Word of mouth – like announcements in other student group meetings and speaking with friends.

A lot of customers will come because they are walking by, so make sure your setup looks nice. You could have music, food, or other activities to attract people walking by. Cornell attracted a lot of customers by having music playing and wrangling in curious passers-by, UCLA has a DJ play and it was very effective.

(UCLA) “The major marketing component of Thrift Sale is simply the location of the event. Being in the campus square allows Nourish’s presence to be known and to attract people. We also made efforts to market on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but overall marketing is an area that can be improved in the future.”

Revenue and Expenses:

On average, UCLA earns about $1,300 in revenue and spends about $200 on marketing and products [$25 on basic event supplies, total $200] Revenue for the 2014 Thrift Sale was about $3,000

Profits and Other benefits of Venture (Marketing for an upcoming event, advance ticket sales, social value created, etc.):

Average profit for UCLA is around $1,100

(UCLA) “An awareness sign that related the sale to the Chapter’s Project could be made. The Chapter could make a poster giving an example of what each item could buy: $1 = x amount of seeds for a Guatemalan farmer, $3 = educational material for one Guatemalan woman, etc … it was really effective and made people very interested in our Project. The Venture is profitable and it is a very worthwhile profit! The profit also has great potential to grow because our marketing in the past has been minimal, but with the right exposure Thrift Sale can be an even better event than it has been. The event itself can also act as a marketing platform for an upcoming event. We have ambitions of putting on a gala event and tickets could definitely be sold at the Sale. Along with the potential to market a future event, the Venture has real potential to market the club itself and attract new, passionate members. However, the motivations and goals of Nourish could have been better promoted throughout this event.”


If you want to have a lot of items your members will have to do a lot of donation collection and/or shopping. Doing this in advance is a must.

(UCLA) “It does take a lot of time and planning to execute Thrift Sale. There are a lot of steps that need to be accomplished in order for it to be a success. There has to be coordination with the university, the donors, and the chapter’s own members. There are hours of tedious work and hundreds of clothing items to go through, but when all the Chapter members come together it become a rather pleasant experience. The most important thing is giving the Chapter enough time to complete all that needs to be done, so planning way in advance was essential. Another important aspect is getting Chapter members engaged, not just the Venture Director”


Here is UCLA’s “How To: Thrift Sale” Document.

(UCLA) “If your Chapter does get donation from an apparel retailer, it can be overwhelming. One tip would be if you do end up with a huge inventory of clothing, be selective about what you put out for sale. Some things in reality won’t sell and others will be very popular. Save yourself the hassle of moving and organizing huge amounts of clothes by sorting wisely. Your Chapter can even put on two sales if there are a variety of seasonal items. But regardless, the event’s success was based highly on the time of day and how much foot traffic was occurring in the event location. It would be advisable to put this on not in the early morning, when students are potentially late to class, but later in the day when they’re leisurely walking back to their dorms and can afford to spend a little time shopping.”

Would you recommend to other chapters?:

Yes! If your Chapter has members willing to collect donations from a variety of sources, to shop for unique clothing items, and to organize a professional looking sale, then this Venture can make a significant amount of money while increasing awareness of your Chapter and your cause!

(UCLA) “Yes, we would definitely recommend Thrift Sale! It’s our most successful event and the concept behind selling bargain clothes is easily relatable across campuses. If it’s a campus’ first Thrift Sale, a chapter with 5 or more dedicated members would be advisable as the kinks are worked out. That being said, our Chapter is relatively small with fewer than 10 members and we are able to plan and execute the event with a small, but dedicated team. Planning is important in this event. The Chapter needs to contact potential donor companies, collect donations from students, sort and price the clothes, get the proper approval to host an event on campus, and set up and run the event the day of. A Chapter that is capable of starting to plan early and staying on track is advisable.”

Contact info:

UCLA – Victoria, Current Chapter Leader (Venture Focus) –

Nourish Alum- Becca Holt –

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