Indie rock music and sunshine set the tone of one student’s Sunday morning pop-up shop, located just a few blocks from campus on Henderson Street. Fairy lights hung from a tree and dresses dangled in the wind over environmental management and protection sophomore Olivia Elman’s front lawn. Neighbors dropped by with questions and left with new homemade items of their own. 

Elman is just one of many students who host local pop-up shops to make quick cash and take on fast fashion without even leaving home.  

“We just decided to get a bunch of people [who] sell their own clothes – and also handmade jewelry – to promote local artists and reusing and re-shopping instead of buying new things,” Elman said.

San Luis Obispo recently received the “Sustainable City of the Year” award for its commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2035. The city was recognized for various actions, such as allocating capital investments to climate change prevention.

Students say pop-up shops are just another way to incorporate sustainable practices into their everyday lives.

Elman opened up her home to shoppers Jan. 25, converting her bathrooms and bedrooms into changing rooms and tree branches into clothing racks. 

However, pop-up shops are not yard sales, where sellers simply get rid of unwanted miscellaneous items, according to math sophomore and shopper Katelyn Ames. 

A pop-up shop is a space temporarily opened to sell a curated collection of items. Although thrifted items are often involved, Ames said pop-up shops are more than just thrift shopping. Sellers do the work of rooting through piles of donated clothes and picking out the gems, so buyers do not have to. 

“This is students our age that are finding ways to make money for themselves and also share cute, picked styles from thrift stores,” Ames said. 

Graphic communications sophomore Elise Monroe, also a pop-up shopper, said the mix of vendors at Elman’s shop created a wide variety of styles to choose from. One sold graphic tees and Harley Davidson jackets, another crochet vests and long slip dresses. 

“[Vendors] can make a little brand for themselves,” Monroe said. “You know, one friend has more indie vibes, the other friend has more punk vibes.”

Both shoppers agreed they were drawn in by the shop’s wide range of styles.

“I love all the vibes of all these different clothes,” Ames said. “There are so many different fashions.” 

A week later, on the other side of campus, psychology sophomore Kilian Ridder and her roommates held a pop-up shop out of their apartment. 

“My friend did it, and apparently she made so much money,” Ridder said. “So, we thought we could sell [clothes] online or just do it right here. It’s very cheap and easy.”

Elman sold items for $10 or less, and said she made a good profit, too. 

“It’s cool because people don’t pay a lot, but it all adds up,” Elman said.

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