Tripod's Thrift Gets A Facelift
Feb. 22, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd
One campus service has received a facelift after a change in leadership and thanks to the efforts of a determined fashion merchandising student. Tripod’s Thrift Shop is now under the direction of Sam Houston State University’s Food Bank leader, Kathleen Gilbert, who enlisted the help of student Fiorela Martinez to help her reimagine the shop.
Together, Gilbert and Martinez looked over the shop in July and decided change was needed so that the space would better serve students and alumni. The duo decided the thrift shop should focus on business attire and other keys to student success.
On top of providing students with business wear that can be used for scholarship interviews, internships and job interviews, the thrift shop has an assortment of personal hygiene items and school supplies. In addition, they are working on a partnership with other departments on campus to offer caps and gowns to prevent students from not being able to cross the stage because they can’t afford these items.
“I think clothing, hygiene and school supplies are the three pillars of what we are here for at the shop, and they are the pillars for student success that we can contribute to,” Gilbert said
The focus on business attire started thanks to the Reba Bock Career Closet, which was previously only one section of the thrift store providing students with the tools they need to be successful in interviews or presentations.
"Being able to offer business clothing to students benefits them by helping them dress appropriately for any job interview, internship or even a school event," Martinez said. "Business clothing can sometimes be pricey and not a priority for a student to buy, so being able to offer these clothing items helps them by still being able to achieve their dreams without worrying about how much they would have to spend."
Their endeavor recently received a great deal of support through a donation by Bearkat alumna Belinda Hillhouse ‘78, an employee for top men’s clothing store, M. Penner. She and her sales team collect items that their clients no longer need and donate them to worthy causes like Tripod’s. In their latest donation, the group provided approximately 100 thousand dollars worth of men’s suits.
Hillhouse was led to Tripod’s thanks to her brother and fellow alum, Rick Hanna and friend Scott McCarley, both Bearkats had reached out to Hillhouse while Tripod’s was still in its conceptual phase, guiding her to support the shop. She is passionate about the mission to provide career clothing to students and is well aware of the impact that proper attire can have on students entering the workforce.
“There are many students who are paying for their college education and don’t really have the means to purchase career clothing,” Hillhouse said. “I love that the students can come to the shop and find clothing to suit their needs for interviews, internships, or whatever their needs be. I’m a firm believer that you dress your best and your self-esteem and confidence immediately go up.”
In all, it is estimated that Hillhouse and her colleagues at M. Penner have donated around $500 thousand dollars worth of professional attire to Tripod’s since its conception and are looking forward to continuing to support the shop.
Gilbert is grateful to the students that have led the shop through huge donations such as Hillhouse’s and ensure that day-to-day operations have go smoothly. That includes Martinez as well as three more students, Fred Williams, Kayla Williams and Yailene Riviera.
“They are the backbone and the heartbeat because I cannot be here 24/7,” Gilbert said. “So yes, Fiorela and Fred are pretty much the team leaders and have done an amazing job with rolling out the refocusing of services.”
Students, alumni and staff can pick up 10 clothing items per semester and can come in monthly to pick up personal hygiene items such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant and other essentials.
Even though the thrift shop’s offerings have changed, donations are still accepted. Tripod’s is happy to accept business or business casual clothing for men and women as well as school supplies and unused personal care items like travel-sized hair care, toothpaste, razors, mouthwash, deodorant, etc. Volunteers are also welcome at the shop, for more information, visit their website and for questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 936-294-2300.
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