The OSU Folk Club Thrift Shop continues to rush headlong into the 21st century.
The venerable consignment shop, which is in its 66th year — its 45th on Northwest Second Street — began accepting credit cards for the first time in June.
Now, with the help of some Oregon State University students, the store is looking to freshen its look.
Taylor Wobig, an OSU senior from Albany, along with the members of her sorority, Chi Theta Phi, has been working with the volunteers who run the store.
“I am giving them them general options regarding flooring, lighting, color palettes and tips regarding how to display merchandise,” said Wobig, who is majoring in interior design and minoring in business and entrepreneurship. The project is part of an independent study course.
“We are also helping them with options for improved window displays, organization and signage. We might even be able to offer them ideas for a new logo.
“We are doing this mainly to help out a store that has given so much to our college.”
Proceeds from the Folk Club and the store have paid for scholarships for OSU students since 1931. More than 700 students have received more than $1 million, and more than $78,000 was distributed last year. (See information box for details).
“That’s why we volunteer here,” said Susan Klinkhammer. “It’s all for grants and scholarships … and fun and friendship.”
Klinkhammer said the store always wanted to work closely with OSU students.
“This will be good for us,” Klinkhammer said of the assistance from Wobig and her sorority team. “We’re kind of an old women’s group. We only know what’s cool from our own children.”
Cheri Fisk, another thrift shop volunteer, also praised the work of Wobig’s team. “It would be great to have some fresh ideas.”
One of the Wobig team's ideas already is bearing fruit. Although clothing occupies a big chunk of the store’s shelf space, the store's window displays did not feature clothing until recently.
“She told us to start putting clothes on display in the front,” Klinkhammer said, “and all of of a sudden we were hearing customers say ‘Oh, my God, they have clothes there.’ That was a genius decision there. Really raised our visibility.”
“The hard part when it comes to helping the shop is the time line,” Wobig said. “I have only 10 weeks (her final weeks at OSU) to give them as many reasonable options as possible. Since the budget is not known, the options have to vary in price range.”
Klinkhammer agreed, noting that there is “no guarantee we can do everything they suggest. It’s up to our board.”
In the meantime, the nearly 150 volunteers will continue to offer customers the store’s eclectic mix of household goods, clothing and oddities, such as a framed picture of astronaut John Glenn and a lawn-sized inflatable beaver.
“People come in because they need children’s clothes or jeans, and it becomes a treasure hunt,” Klinkhammer said.