Vintage Vibes: Nittany Thrifts Closing Gap For Vintage Penn State Gear

Friends who thrift together, stay together. Sometimes, they create a business together.

Mitchell Spittle, Gerik Urban, and Mark Edgar created Nittany Thrifts to sell Penn State gear and vintage apparel. After seeing a gap in the market for vintage Penn State items, the roommates stepped up in October 2022. While they specialize in Penn State, the three also have other genres of overall vintage items from sports, bands, racing, and more.

The three all had five to six years of experience in thrifting before deciding to take the step into Nittany Thrifts. From there, social media took a large role in getting the business out into the community. They started on Instagram, posting consistently and starting with story sales with their network growing day by day.

“You knew there’d be demand for the product. We just said, ‘Why not us?’ Somebody should be supplying this product and there was definitely a purpose for it and there’s some passion behind it,” Spittle said. “I think having the passion for the clothing at Penn State just made for the perfect scenario.”

The brand’s sourcing process remains a secret, but the wholesale process plays a large role.

Six months after it started, Nittany Thrifts took place in its first pop-up with other small businesses. These pop-ups allowed the students to lean on each other for help and gave the customers variety, so everyone benefitted. These have become increasingly important to the business, as it now alternates between Depop sales, store sales, and pop-up events.

Courtesy of Bert Davis

Spittle, Urban, and Edgar began to promote an event about three weeks before, posting on Instagram and putting flyers up around campus to get the word out as much as possible. So far, they’ve been averaging around 400 people at the pop-ups but reached 500 to 600 for a White Out collab pop-up.

Edgar is a brand ambassador for Depop, who he began working for at the beginning of the Spring 2024 semester. He helps them with graphics for merch, spreading the word about the brand on campus, and getting students more involved. Because of this connection, Depop sponsored their latest pop-up.

“Basically, their branding was everywhere, and they supplied us with the tote bag and other merchandise to give to anyone who came to the event,” Edgar said. “Usually, when people came to our pop-ups, they buy the clothes they want, but then they just throw it over their shoulder. It gave them a shopping bag to have at the event.”

Courtesy of Dillon Williams

On the day of the pop-up, the roommates took five full racks, a banner with their logo and Instagram, and got to the spot early in the morning to set up an inviting space. And after each one, they see their followers grow more and more.

However, the day their following jumped the most came after Zach Bryan visited the Bryce Jordan Center on March 12.

The day before the concert, Bryan’s stylist messaged Nittany Thrifts on Instagram in search of an outfit to give him for the concert. The roommates were all free and went through their stash to throw together some clothes they thought Bryan would like. From the time they got the message, only three hours had passed before they met the stylist at the Graduate Hotel downtown.

“He wound up picking two of the pieces, and Zach Bryan wound up wearing one. He cut the sleeves off because that’s his signature thing. He wound up wearing that, and that was huge for us because we got a lot of PR and engagement,” Edgar said. “It just helped the account grow a lot more and it performed pretty well. I’m pretty sure it’s our biggest reel we posted yet.”

A reel of Bryan got 34,000 views and helped Nittany Thrifts gain 300 followers in a day. Their journey has only grown from there and will be taking new strides post-graduation in a few short weeks.

The three are working on creating a website to get it up and running, especially trying to connect with alumni who want to purchase but don’t necessarily understand how the sales work through Instagram. Of course, more pop-ups are on the radar as they plan to stay consistent with them throughout the year, possibly even branching out to new locations downtown.

Nittany Thrifts has been able to already make its mark off campus despite its young age. So far, it has been a part of pop-ups in Maryland, New York, Philadelphia, and other places throughout Pennsylvania.

Sometimes, event organizers will reach out and tell them about the event and invite them to apply, but other times, the three find events on their own and take the steps, and it usually pays off.

“I think the really cool thing is that it reinforces the whole Penn State community when you get out of the State College area. Because every time I go to Philly or York or any of these cities, every time I get somebody buying Penn State stuff and being like, ‘I just graduated from there,'” Spittle said. “The last time I was in Philly, I had a guy say he just graduated here and used to go to our pop-up, so that’s a pretty cool experience to have.”

As the three get ready to graduate, they have the Penn State community to thank for where they are and support them as they grow. Spittle is graduating with a degree in finance, Edgar with a degree in integrated arts and advertising, and Urban with a degree in civil engineering. Each brings their own skill set, meshing together into a perfect mix.

“I love Penn State, I’m so grateful. I mean, without going here, we wouldn’t have this. But I think it more comes from the students. Without them, we’re nothing, so just giving back to them and providing them with the best product we possibly can is our goal,” Spittle said.

Not only does the group want to provide the best product but also the most sustainable. They provide a unique option, for a much lesser cost.

“We believe that not only are you helping a small business, but you’re helping the environment and you’re promoting the sustainability that Penn State also preaches, which is something that we hope they’ll work with us on promoting sustainability and pushing back on mass production,” Spittle said.

At the end of the day, Nittany Thrifts and the roommates’ vision has stayed the same since the beginning and only grown stronger alongside the business.

“We want to provide the best vintage clothing to the community and want people to realize that we are more than a business,” Spittle said. “We want it to feel like a community and that when you purchase something from us, you’re a part of something bigger. Almost the same way that Penn State preaches it, and then you know, when you wear our clothes you are a part of this Penn State community and embody that ‘We Are’ mentality.”

“So you can preach that you’re a part of this community in terms of wearing the Penn State clothes, but then there’s also some individuality involved because a lot of the vintage clothing is still way more unique than something like from McLanahans,” Spittle continued.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a sophomore studying journalism from New Jersey. She is not okay about Saquon leaving the Giants and was crying on her couch all day. She can't look at all of her Saquon merch and doesn't know when she will recover. You can email [email protected] to send her ways to meet Saquon or watch her obsess over Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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