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SAU Senior Opens Vintage Store and Cashes in on Thrifting

Above: Willy Lopez poses outside his store, 563 Vintage. Photo courtesy of Kaylee Parsons.

Imagine you are walking down the street and someone offers to buy the shirt off your back. This is what an SAU senior and his crew are willing to do to have such an eccentric inventory. 

Located just minutes away from campus at 1517 N. Harrison Street is the unique clothing store 563 Vintage. It is becoming increasingly popular among students. An SAU senior and exercise science major, Willy Lopez, started selling vintage clothing from his Franklin Hall dorm in 2020. Along with Willy are his two partners, Gavin Knerr and former student, Justin Omarrah. 

Above: (Left to right) Gavin Knerr, Willy Lopez, and Justin Omarrah inside their store, 563 Vintage. Photo courtesy of Kaylee Parsons.

All three say they have a burning passion to find interesting, vintage pieces of clothing to share with the rest of the world. Willy met former SAU student, Justin, in 2021, and realized they should combine their mutual interest to create a website for vintage clothing sales. “Locals loved the website so we decided to take it to brick and mortar,” says Justin. They eventually met Gavin and added him to the team. 

Thrifting can be an excellent alternative to buying something new. According to Earthday.org, “Over 100 billion garments are produced annually. Only 1% of produced garments are recycled while 85% end up in a landfill.” It’s an era of overconsumption and fast fashion companies market their products to be affordable and trendy. 

However, many consumers do not consider how constantly buying new clothes affects the environment. Willy says, “There are tons of clothes that get bailed overseas while there are definitely enough clothes to go around.” Justin says, “These days, companies are thinking about how they can make clothes quicker and cheaper.” 

Another aspect of the fast fashion industry is the decrease in quality compared to how clothes used to be made. Gavin says, “With new clothes, there is no craftsmanship or quality. Why would you pay for new clothes when you could just thrift old, high-quality ones?” Thrifting or buying vintage can be an excellent alternative to supporting the fast fashion industry. Justin says, “There are so many ways to be more sustainable. You just have to be creative.” 

Above: 563 Vintage’s brick and mortar storefront. Photo courtesy of Kaylee Parsons.

When finding the sources for their clothing, “It would be easier to tell you where we don’t get things,” says Gavin. “It’s honestly a consistency and luck thing. It takes creativity to think about if other people would like it,” says Lopez. There are no limits to what these guys are willing to do to pursue their passion. Gavin shares, “One time I was in a cafe and bought a guy’s jacket for $20 and traded him my own jacket that I was wearing.” Justin says, “When someone comes in and sees something they really love… that’s what we live for.” 

The trio says they value their reduced global footprint, especially when it comes to their store. They give customers reusable tote bags instead of plastic bags, switched to paper mailers instead of plastic poly mailers, and other small things. Justin explains, “These changes have to start small to get big.” Everything in their store, including the furniture, is thrifted or recycled. 563 Vintage is located at 1517 N. Harrison Street, and they celebrated their grand opening on Oct. 20, 2023.

Kaylee Parsons is a staff writer for The Buzz.