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Pop Up Thrift Shop Trades Thoughts For Goods Outside Palmer Museum

Described as a “nomadic, upcycling store,” The Palmer Pop Up Thrift Shop attracted a flock of students to the courtyard outside the Palmer Art Museum Wednesday afternoon. Organized by students Michael Grasso, Tessa Sontheimer, Sloane King, and Caleb Bernstein as an assignment for their Art Anthropocene class, the project traded leftover material goods for a much less concrete currency.

“Patrons will make payments by writing down their thoughts and opinions about the value of upcycling upon the environment,” Grasso said prior to the event. “The whole purpose of the thrift shop is to facilitate dialogues about upcycling, and the positive impacts of reusing possessions on the environment, rather than getting it sent to the landfill.”

Palmer Pop Up Thrift Store
Students dig through piles of donated goods.

The warm, sunny Wednesday and prime location made the shop a popular stop for students with time to kill between classes. I approached the garage sale-esque environment and weaved through a herd of students, all gathering over a few tables and blankets. Once I made it through the crowd, a pile of eccentric, random, and delightfully odd items appeared. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I dug through an assortment of mishmash items, including old Valentine’s Day gifts (I guess it really was a rough winter), light bulbs, old Ugg boots, and tons of worn teeshirts and retired Penn State paraphernalia.

Palmer Art Thrift Store
An “Art Therapy” relaxation station accompanied the thrift store items.

The thrift shop wasn’t just limited to several piles of unwanted goods, however. Tables filled with other artistic activities occupied the area surrounding the heaps of clothes and books. One station was dedicated to “Art Therapy,” where a student showed me how to make a destress ball from balloons and beans. She continued to explain that the foods offered on the table — bananas, strawberries, and chocolate — were all snacks proven to calm nerves. As students munched away, many of them also enjoyed casually painting and drawing, producing a wholly relaxing and organic atmosphere.

Palmer Pop Up
Healthy snacks sit next to a “Feelings Box,” allowing students to express their troubles.

Just a few steps away was a “Free Tattoo” station where students involved with the School of Visual Arts were offering temporary tattoos with Sharpies and markers. Naturally, I couldn’t resist.

Grasso, a sophomore sculpture student, said he was inspired by his aunt who recently opened her own upcycling store. “I liked the idea of doing it for free on campus, because you have to get a permit to actually sell things, but you can give things away for people’s opinions for free,” he said.

By introducing artwork and good deeds to the student body in a creative way, the event was not only a resounding success, but a fine distraction from the final week of classes stress.

About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])


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