Arts & Culture / Mosaic / January 30, 2013

Students sell handmade wares in the bookstore

Students are able to sell handmade items through the book store. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

Students are able to sell handmade items through the book store. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

On a small table in Knox’s bookstore are stickers, racks of jewelry, greeting cards, mix CDs and a lot more, all of which are handmade by Knox students.

This consignment area got started a few years ago. Only students are allowed to sell goods — no faculty, staff, or alumni allowed —and the bookstore takes 10 percent of students’ profit.

“We sell quite a bit of it, for what’s there,” bookstore manager Virgi Cox said.

Cox recalls one item in particular that was quite popular among Knox students. Katie Baer ‘12 made dolls shaped like flames with faces on them — Prairie Fire mascots — that sold like wildfire.

“Everybody thought it was such a cool idea because we really don’t have a mascot,” Cox said. “We’ve had adults come in and buy them. They thought they were adorable.”

Now that Baer has graduated, more items have come into consignment to take the Prairie Fire mascots’ place. Junior Jillian Somera partnered with fellow junior Honor Beeler last spring to put Somera’s image on some limited edition Lincoln Fest stickers. Beeler did the artwork and Somera added text.

“I’m actually all about [collaboration],” Somera said. “There’s a lot of really talented people on this campus and I feel like you might as well make them a resource.”

Like Somera and Beeler, sophomore Kathleen Magill took a lot of time to produce her consignment items: hand-drawn designs reproduced onto greeting cards.

“When I can’t do any more [homework],  I just work on one of [my cards] for awhile,” Magill said.

Contrary to Cox’s assessment of the consignment area’s popularity, those with items for sale who were interviewed have felt almost a complete lack of interest from the Knox community.

“I’ve sold six cards [total] and it’s because … a guy that I’m friends with knew that I put them in [the bookstore],” Magill said.

Somera offered up pricing as part of the problem.

“If you have something … you’re interested in selling, I would go and ask your friends, ‘Is this something you would buy?’” Somera said. “Be completely honest with yourself [as to] how much something is worth.”

While considering one’s potential customers is a wise aspect of doing business, location and presentation are important as well. Magill said that her greeting cards could be getting lost in a crowded display.

“It’s a really small table, it’s really crowded, it’s not visually appealing,” Magill said. “[For example] my cards are in … a tea box that I found in my room, when I was like, ‘I don’t know what to put these in.’”

Although senior Alison Gaines has not sold any of her handmade necklaces in a while, she offered some advice for students looking to get more business through consignment.

“Make [your items] stand out from the other things you see there,” Gaines said. “If it looks like someone put a lot of effort into it and its well-crafted and not too highly priced, [people should be interested].”

For Gaines, consignment has its positives: getting to see the results of crafting a well-made product that people want to buy.

“My first year … I made this necklace, and a few months later I saw a girl walking around wearing it, which was cool,” Gaines said.

Blair Peters

Tags:  bookstore cards consignment handmade jewelry

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