Megan Lacey ’23 and Alice Cockerham ’23 had no idea what would happen when they created their online thrift store @CampusAve.
“I kind of went into it with no expectations,” Lacey said. “We thought it could work but we didn’t put like millions of dollars into it, so we had the mindset of whatever happens, happens.”
Their decision to create the business paid off handsomely. Currently, the account has 135 followers and only one piece of clothing (out of the 21 advertised) has yet to sell. Clearly, the clothing that Lacey and Cockerham like are popular with the Bates community.
Lacey and Alice, both first years, met during track practice. They became fast friends, and when Cockerham mentioned her idea of an Instagram thrift store, Lacey was immediately interested.
“I’m from Maine, so I kind of the know the area and I know there’s a lot of thrift stores around Lewiston and in my town,” Cockerham said.
Cockerham couldn’t go to a track meet in Boston because of an injury, and on a whim decided to buy the first batch of clothing for the account.
“I ended up finding a lot of good stuff,” she said. “I think from now on, we will go together, because it is a very collaborative process.”
Both Lacey and Cockerham thought it would take a while for clothing to sell, but in a few minutes, they received DMs inquiring about pieces. Every single piece of clothing in the first batch posted sold within a day.
The business offers free dorm room delivery, an especially popular feature. With every purchase they include a personalized note about the item of clothing.
They both initially bonded over a love of thrifting and are most excited about the environmental impact it has. Campus Ave wraps its clothing in recyclable paper, making sure to be as sustainable as possible.
“It’s cheaper, obviously, and better for the environment,” Lacey said. “Right now there is a lot of fast fashion that is not sustainable, so even doing a little bit to help that is important.”
Cockerham added that one of the thrift shops they shop at donates its profits to a local food pantry. “It’s just really good to put money back into the economy,” she explained.
One of the most important things about creating their own brand was the marketing and design. On Instagram, Campus Ave has a very clear aesthetic.
“From the beginning, before we even got the clothes, we knew we needed to have a way to show the clothing in the right way,” Lacey said.
They believed their Instagram design was key to selling the clothing.
“The account had to look good and catch people’s eye,” Cockerham explained. “We bought a big white cardboard thing sitting in my dorm room to take pictures.”
Cockerham and Lacey also focused on the name of their business for a while in order to curate the right brand. They relied on their friends on the track team.
“We wanted it to relate to Bates in some way,” Cockerham said. “We just didn’t want it to be too much or too tacky. One night we were trying to think of names and pulled up Google Maps. We were talking about all sorts of names but ultimately Campus Ave really worked, and our friends liked it.”
Creating the business has made them think more about the Bates community and what students want.
“Starting this really opened my eyes to what people wear on the day to day,” Cockerham said. “We sit in Commons now, looking at what people are wearing and try to get stuff like that for the account.”
Lacey added that they originally focused on mom jeans and oversized sweaters, however they are trying to expand to other pieces of clothing as well.
“We want to expand our size range and what pieces we offer,” she said. “I am definitely interested in doing more pants, shoes, and belts—that kind of stuff.”
Another goal that they are focusing on is reaching more upperclassmen. Currently, their audience is mainly first years. As first years, Lacey and Cockerham mainly promoted their account by following people they knew. Besides upperclassmen on the track team, many non-first years are not aware of their business.
One challenge that they are facing is balancing their newfound success with schoolwork and track practice.
“We have school all day, practice for like three and a half hours, and then packing and delivering our clothing,” Cockerham said. “The time crunch is a time risk we wanted to take, and it is something that we need to take our time figuring out.”
Lacey added that they haven’t set an exact schedule and are testing out options.
“As of right now deliveries are on Sundays, but we don’t have a set time of when we shop because we have meets on Saturdays. We need to find a specific time.”
Despite the challenges, the process of creating this business has been extremely rewarding for the friends.
“Seeing people wearing our clothing is awesome,” Cockerham said. “I sit in Commons and look around and we haven’t sold that much stuff, but I’ve seen people wearing what we have sold. It’s nice that people like what we’re selling. That’s honestly better than the money.”
Lacey added that she’s just excited to see where things go.
“More is coming,” she joked. “A lot more is coming!”
Check out @CampusAve for the latest batches of clothing—the business normally drops new items about once a week. Their pieces are available for purchase by DM and payments are usually through Venmo.