Retail management class combines fashion and sustainability

A rack of blue label clothing at the Fusion Swap Shop at Fusion on First in Phoenix on March 29, 2022.

A thrift store with cute clothes and fair prices might seem out of reach, but for students at Arizona State University’s downtown campus, it’s just across the street.

In Fusion on First’s “Fusion Swap Shop” pop-up, students could exchange their clothes for vouchers, which could then be exchanged for other donated items in the shop. Deposits were accepted March 14-18 and the store was officially open March 21-31. Donations were still accepted after the initial deposit period.

The idea was born in a brand new class for ASU: Fashion Retail Management, or FSH 294.

“You bring in stuff, then we evaluate the items,” said Ali Rahnati, a senior fashion specialist. “After that, you can come and pick up the vouchers and just browse the inventory.”

The class divided into committees responsible for different aspects of the project. Everyone had to work at least five hours in the store itself.

The students of the Merchandise Planning Committee decided the value of clothing and accessories with a five-color voucher system, with green being the cheapest and red the most. Vouchers corresponded to color-coded ribbons tied on hangers, and guests could add vouchers for “bigger” items.

The whole concept was created entirely by the students in the class, according to Professor Danielle Testa. They only had a month to prepare.

“Students created proposals for how they wanted to use the space or what type of experience they wanted[ed] create,” she says. “We had a whole variety of really cool ideas…and decided to do the swap shop for a variety of reasons, but most of them were [because] it engages a lot of people who are in [Fusion].”

Because Fusion on First is home to fashion classes as well as apartment-style dorms, the boutique has attracted fashion majors and other students to campus.

“There is a lot of interest in sustainability across and I would say through the student body, but honestly the campus in general the teachers are interested in it too, aren’t they? said Testa.

“I had a bunch of old clothes that I didn’t really want, but I didn’t really have access to goodwill or a way to donate,” Kelsi Dewaard said. She is a freshman with a double major in criminology and nonprofit leadership. She heard about the store from her community advisor. “It’s really nice to be able to donate here and also to be able to buy new clothes without having to spend any money.”

For two weeks the swap shop accepted donations, approximately 40 people donated over 450 items not to mention the donations that were not retained. Anything that was missing parts, torn or not ready to sell for any reason will be donated or used as scrap.

Although the next fashion marketing class will have to come up with a different semester project, Testa said the swap shop could potentially reopen. The current class just has to decide if they want to donate the remaining clothes to charity or save them for a future trade.

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Amber Victoria Singer is a sophomore in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is pursuing a journalism degree with a minor in sustainability. In addition to being a reporter for Downtown Devil, she hosts a weekly DJ crew and a music show on ASU’s student radio station, Blaze Radio, and interns at KJZZ. In her limited free time, Amber enjoys roller skating, saving money and drinking extra sweet frozen caramel lattes.


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