Shopping isn’t easy for college students. The Williamsburg Premium Outlets are over half an hour away by public transportation. Online shopping racks up quite the credit card bill and you are more likely to find next year’s ugly Christmas sweater at Goodwill than any new trend you’ve had your eye on. Luckily, the College of William and Mary students have another option — “william and mary ppl selling their clothing.”
The Facebook group “william and mary ppl selling their clothing” acts as an open marketplace for students to buy and sell their new, used or otherwise unidentified fashion finds that range from clothing to phone cases to homemade items. Once admitted to the group, members with items to sell are able to post photographs of their goods, set prices and message interested buyers. On the flip side, members can quickly comment their interest on posts, ask questions and seal the deal.
The group was founded in the fall of 2016 by Emily Holtzman ’18 in order to create a convenient, inclusive space for students to buy and sell clothing. Prior to creating the group, Holtzman had been a member of a similar group exclusive to sorority members.
“There was a site at William and Mary, but it was kind of exclusively within the Greek community,” Holtzman said. “It was like ‘Shop Greek’ or something along those lines. And so I was just like, you know, why not create a group that’s kind of inclusive to everyone on campus.”
Since its creation, the page has grown beyond Holtzman’s expectations, and it now has over 2,800 members — nearly a third of the College’s population.
“I kind of just expected it to be just a small little group on campus,” Holtzman said. “But then everyone started adding their friends, and it kind of grew from there, just from people adding their own networks and people.”
Since the group is based on Facebook, it’s easy to share the group with friends — all it takes is a few clicks and a short waiting period as your membership is verified.
For Trinity Torres ’18, a frequent buyer in the group, “william and mary ppl selling their clothing” is the perfect way to spice up her closet.
“I’ve always been really big into thrift shopping,” Torres said. “I just thought it was an affordable way to kind of update my closet.”
When asked about which shopping method she prefers, Torres emphasized the ease of access that comes with “william and mary ppl selling their clothing.” With all the buyers and sellers already living in close proximity, the process is as simple as setting up a time and place to meet, usually Swemromas or Cosi.
“I think it’s a lot easier for a busy student to kind of just scroll through and find stuff they like and then arrange to get it that day or the next day,” Torres said. “It’s so much easier to just meet up with someone and give them cash or Venmo and leave.”
Venmo, a mobile payment app, has become the most popular method of transaction for “william and mary ppl selling their clothing.” Instead of relying on a source of cash for the transactions, students simply have to exchange usernames. Venmo certainly encourages the spending of money on a whim, but it does feed the shopping addiction of many of the College’s fashionistas.
“I probably buy too much,” Ashlynn Sommers ’20 said. “I probably buy things once a week or once every other week — it’s really bad. It’s like a game. I like to be the first person to comment. I don’t know, it’s kind of addicting.”
Because of Facebook’s notification system, eager shoppers simply have to change their settings to get real-time updates on new posts. More often than not, comments espousing enthusiastic interest appear within minutes of a post going live. Luckily for group members that don’t want to check their phone every few minutes, hardly a day goes by without new posts with fresh items to purchase.
Despite its premise as a space to buy and sell clothing, “william and mary ppl selling their clothing” has become a source of community at the College. It is a space where students come together, especially in ways they might never have gotten a chance to before. Since founding the group, Holtzman has crossed paths with people she never would have imagined meeting before.
“I think it promotes a lot more social interaction,” Holtzman said. “I’ve been able to meet a lot of people just through them being interested in my clothes and meeting up with them.”
After noticing some shared interests on a Facebook profile, Sommers met up with the person to exchange clothes and ended up forming a lasting connection.
“I think it’s cool to meet new people, and I’ve actually joined some new clubs because of it,” Sommers said. “I guess I’ve made new friends because of the page.”
At its core, “william and mary ppl selling their clothing” relies on growth and change, but not just with its membership numbers.
“I went through a kind of transitionary phase mid-college where I was kind of just trying to [get] ‘out with the old, in with the new,’” Holtzman said. “I think in college you’re really finding yourself and your style’s changing. … It’s a platform where people can exchange their styles, which is really awesome.”
As for the future, Holtzman assures that the group will remain standing even after her graduation. For those desiring more from “william and mary ppl selling their clothing,” Holtzman already has ideas about introducing communal events and meeting points, which will help to solve the problem of trying to align busy schedules. In addition, Holtzman wants to expand the group beyond the College’s main campus by creating alumni branches in places like Washington, D.C.