By Kim Walter
What started as a class project could blossom into an ongoing partnership between Shenandoah University's Enactus team and the Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary Attic.
Enactus, a university class which promotes entrepreneurial action in the local community, decided to work with the Auxiliary Attic this year with hopes of increasing donations, foot traffic and sales.
All proceeds from the thrift store go back into the community through the Auxiliary's funding of various special projects at Winchester Medical Center.
A year has passed since the Attic moved into its new location at 381 Millwood Ave in Winchester. The store is a 100-year-old apple distribution center, which provides a unique atmosphere to volunteer and shop.
The Auxiliary Attic accepts donations of clean, gently used items including clothing, shoes, small appliances, housewares, knickknacks, furniture, books and more.
Donna Trousedale, business administration major and Enactus member, said the Attic's contribution to its surrounding community made it a clear choice for a partnership.
Since the school year started, Enactus has advertised for the Attic through the university newsletter, bulletin boards and other announcements. Trousedale said the entire student body was encouraged to participate in the partnership by donating materials to be sold at the store.
"We were trying to focus on a certain market, college students," Trousedale said.
Enactus members have spent the past two months researching what kinds of things college students would like to see when they shop at a thrift store. The students were also allowed to look through items already for sale in the Attic, and relocate them to a new section of the shop -- the "Shenandoah Section."
The group gained enough inventory and research to officially get things going at the Attic on Oct. 11.
It hasn't been a week since the section opened, but Leslie Tucker, the Attic's manager, said she has already noticed a difference in customers and sales.
"What they're doing is working," she said of Enactus' effort. "Making a special section aimed at attracting younger shoppers has changed the concept of everything. I saw sales go up right away."
Jacob Young, an Enactus member majoring in marketing, said the immediate results were a bit shocking.
"I feel like we went with a winning idea," he said. "Our whole goal was to get the Attic to a more stable financial state so it can better serve the community ... we're getting there."
This Saturday, students can enjoy "Shenandoah Day at the Attic." By showing a valid SU I.D. between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., customers will receive 50 percent off purchases from the "Shenandoah Section." They can also receive 20 percent off purchases from the rest of the store.
Tucker said the partnership is already an "exciting one" that she believes benefits Shenandoah students and the surrounding community.
If it continues to be successful, the partnership would remain even after Enactus isn't working on the project.
By alerting college students of its presence, Tucker said she hopes they will consider donating items to the Attic while they pack up for the summer. She said thrift shops also offer a special alternative to those on a "college student budget."
"All proceeds are going toward Auxiliary projects, most importantly, the WMC cancer center campaign," she said. "But these students are also getting experience from a business standpoint, and their efforts aren't just being put into this store, they're being put into this community."
The Auxiliary Attic is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Sunday and Monday.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org