Trendy styles are underway with the opening of New Era Thrifted, a second hand shop located in the units between the Cougar Card Office and McAlister’s Deli at the Welcome Center. The store opened on Jan. 25 and the owner has high hopes of cementing his paw prints on campus.
The retail franchise has been in business for three years with its first location in the Railway Heights, but its owner, UH alum Mohamad Kandiel, had always considered opening at UH.
“UH is where I graduated,” Kandiel said. “ I was thinking I should open a store here. I did pop-up shows here as a student, and I saw that most of my customers are college kids.”
With his target audience in mind, Kandiel said he’s marketing his shop to all UH students, no matter their fashion influences.
“College kids are different and they have their own style,” Kandiel said. “We carry different styles, so students are not limited to anything.”
Economics junior David Idah is pleased with the overall vibe of the store but suggested that the inventory could be expanded.
“The store is well put together, and the customer service was top tier,” Idah said. “Their inventory isn’t massive, but they do have some great pieces.”
Idah also said that he thought the second hand merchandise was “definitely affordable.” On the other hand, supply chain management junior Akin Ajibola said that he thought the prices were a bit high, with clothing previously priced as high as $35.
“I think the prices are a little higher than other thrift stores,” Ajibola said. “But they’re not outrageous.”
Besides other thrift stores with lower prices, students might also choose to get needed clothes from Cougar Closet, a clothing resource that Kandiel doesn’t see as a threat to his business whatsoever. In fact, he is hoping to collaborate with the resource center in the future to better connect with the Cougar community.
“There’s a lot of ideas that I want to execute,” Kandiel said. “But working with Cougar Closet is the main one. It’d be nice to do something with Cougar Closet to give back.”
While he’s not a stranger to the adversity that comes with entrepreneurship, Kandiel said his biggest challenge he’s faced since opening his shop has been raising visibility. Although the store’s location on campus doesn’t help, thanks to the enormous trees blocking its entrance, Kandiel said he’s settling in and deciding what he’ll do to address the major disadvantage.
“The ideal place to have opened would be the Student Center,” Kandiel said. “I don’t think these trees are helping because if a student is looking from across the Rec Center, it’s hard for them to see any type of signage I put out, but I’m working on figuring it out.”
On the bright side, Kandiel has received a lot of positive feedback from students to lighten his burdens, he said.
Although he has received promising”feedback on his selections, Kandiel said he’s negotiating with a few other vendors on expanding his inventory with a women’s section, sneakers and hats, which would please students like Ajibola, who are looking for more options and better prices.
“I would like to see the empty space in the store filled with more clothes and possibly price tags on the clothing items,” Ajibola said.
When it comes to being located on campus, however, Idah said that the store is already embedding itself in UH culture.
“Being that it’s right here on campus, it’s easy to access and super affordable,” Idah said. “I saw kids coming in and leaving with whole new outfits. It was hilarious but incredible.”