Following the closure of Gina + Will, UMN students reflect on the lack of thrift fashion in Dinkytown

The closing of the store on Aug. 22 shrunk an already small clothing retail market in the neighborhood.

Pedestrians+stroll+past+the+empty+storefront+that+previously+housed+the+Gina+%2B+Will+store+in+Dinkytown+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+5.

Pedestrians stroll past the empty storefront that previously housed the Gina + Will store in Dinkytown on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Samantha Woodward

Students have struggled amid a lack of local clothing options but are doing what they can to express themselves creatively and on a budget.
The closing of the consignment store Gina + Will has brought to light students’ ongoing desire for an authentic thrifting experience.
Dinkytown’s Gina + Will was an experiment by Goodwill where employees hand-picked pieces from Goodwill stores to upcycle clothing to University of Minnesota students. A spokesperson for the company said COVID-19 was not a factor for the closure.
Kent Kramp, Dinkytown Business Alliance (DBA) president, said it can be difficult to maintain a successful retail presence in the neighborhood.
“During the summertime and winter break, it can be a ghost town. Business can fluctuate very dramatically from one season to another, even without COVID,” Kramp said.
Kramp added that the seasonal changes and inconsistencies in businesses are easier to handle as a restaurant than a retail shop because a restaurant is able to turn over inventory more quickly.
Due to the limited range of thrifting and clothing options in the area, students are going elsewhere for their fashion needs.
In 2016, then-first-year University student Grant Fuller started the now-defunct student group NSG Thrift to meet new people on campus and bond over a shared love of thrifting.
He said thrifting is a raw experience, and Gina + Will’s curated selection took away the authenticity.
“[Thrifting is] just a way to really customize your own style instead of letting big brands and big companies, like, pick out what’s cool for the next generation,” Fuller said. “It’s just a better way to show your true style than just buying stuff at, like, Urban Outfitters or Zara.”
Fuller found it difficult to get himself to different thrift stores without a car. He said he had to go as far as Roseville to get to stores that carry what he was looking for.
Second-year University student Morgan Trajkovski ran into the same problem of leaving Dinkytown to thrift the way she wanted to — even before Gina + Will closed. Trajkovski described her ideal solution to have a thrift store and coffee shop hybrid where students can socialize and shop for unique clothing only a few blocks from campus.
With the lack of nearby options, some students are turning to online shopping and, more recently, online thrifting.
When students Ava Ekman and Sophia Campbell first arrived at the University, they were excited to explore the fashion scene. They were quickly disappointed by the lack of options and decided to find their own way to connect with students and make unique pieces for game days.
Starting in their freshman year, they began flipping thrifted clothing made for Gopher game days and selling them on Instagram under the username @ggamedayapparel.
Some students said Hideaway, the tobacco shop on Fourth Street Southeast, is a hidden gem for thrifting. The store has had a boutique and resale section in the basement for the past year.
KD DeAcetis, a second-year chemical engineering and chemistry student, said Hideaway was her first Dinkytown thrifting experience. She especially appreciates the eco-friendly nature of thrift shopping.
“The main reason that I transitioned to thrifting rather than online shopping or shopping at more popular businesses is because of the ethical standards behind it. It has a giant impact on the environment,” DeAcetis said.
She would have much rather seen a Goodwill pay-by-the-pound outlet in Dinkytown — a place that offers clothes that did not sell at a regular Goodwill — rather than the curated Gina + Will.