If you’re going to offer students a retailing program at a university business school (the Whitman School at Syracuse University), why not get those students involved in some actual retailing? Such was the thought process behind one of the coolest retail concepts we’ve come across: 3fifteen (for Syracuse area code 315), a 5,000 square foot vintage boutique featuring fabulous second-hand clothing and home furnishings, the proceeds of which go to local charities. The spacious store (on Marshall Street, right on campus!) was built and decorated by students in record time under the supervision of Whitman professor Amanda Nicholson (who, between teaching classes, hammered, sanded, painted and negotiated leases). It has a trendy warehouse feeling and features a WiFi-enhanced coffee bar (with comfy furniture, all for sale!) where students can hang out with their laptops, drink coffee and maybe even study. (Of course, students also price, sort and sell the merchandise.)
An added plus: the university has a deal with Wegman’s food stores. Customers in upstate New York can drop off gently used clothing and home goods to their local Wegman’s; their trucks then transport product to the SU campus. In addition to the vintage goods, 3fifteen also has a section of beautiful artisan-made accessories woven by impoverished women in Guatemala. This is part of another SU program (SIFE) dedicated to raising the standard of living in Guatemala and encouraging Mayan girls to stay in school.
Of the many ways to measure success in business, giving back is high on our list. Kudos to Dr. Nicholson, the Whitman School of Management, and 3fifteen!