On Monday, Sept. 11, Dell Thrift and Pantry, a free thrift store and food pantry, opened on the first floor of the University of Lynchburg’s Hundley Hall. The shop, located opposite the elevator in Room 121, is open 24/7. The shop is not staffed, but that’s by design.
“Dell Thrift will not be staffed, but we will have student staff members … regularly checking on the place, restocking, and addressing any arising needs,” said Cory Schutter, community engagement coordinator at Lynchburg’s Center for Community Engagement.
“We do want students to be able to shop independently, giving them the freedom to choose their clothing or food without the feeling of supervision. It will be open 24/7, allowing students to access food and clothing in a relatively private space, when needed.”
While it’s open to all students, faculty, and staff, Dell Thrift was born out of a need expressed by Lynchburg’s transgender and transmasculine students for a safe, inclusive space to shop for and try on clothes.
“It might not feel safe or comfortable to find gender-affirming clothing in a traditional clothing store, but Dell Thrift is a welcoming place to fill out your wardrobe,” Schutter said.
Shoppers can try on clothes in two gender-neutral restrooms, located around the corner from Dell Thrift, or take them back to their residence. If it’s not a good fit, Schutter said, items can be returned to the racks.
Schutter also is working to establish a “binder fund” at Dell Thrift for students who need chest compression garments. “Binders can be expensive,” he said, “and there are barriers to purchasing gender-affirming clothing.
“It’s also important that a binder is comfortable and doesn’t cause bruising, back pain, or breathing problems. Dell Thrift will have binder kits available, so students can measure for a binder that fits them and choose a confidential delivery method, if needed.”
Personal hygiene products are also available.
Dell Thrift and Pantry originated in the University’s Innovation Collaborative, which provided $1,600 in startup funds. The funds were used for hangers and hanging racks, collection boxes and bags, shelving, signage, benches, and other items.
CEE has also partnered with Lynchburg Environmental Sustainability Society, or LESS, one of the biggest clubs on campus.
“LESS has already helped organize the space and set up donation boxes in all the campus laundry rooms,” Schutter said. “In addition, the group will host popup shops on the Dell, sort and wash clothes as they are collected, and keep the space in shape.”
LESS volunteers also will post about Dell Thrift and Pantry on social media — to get the word out about the shop and also about sustainability efforts on campus.
“By shopping secondhand, you’re preventing your dollars from helping out a large, problematic corporation, while also diverting waste from the landfill,” LESS President Rin Doering ’26 said. “It’s also a lot cheaper, which is grand if you’re able to get to places like Goodwill or local secondhand shops.
“If you’re like me and don’t have a car or other reliable transportation on campus, you find yourself in a predicament, where you can’t just go and shop secondhand whenever you need to buy clothing.
“And what about LGBT+ and noncisgender students? Many are met with uncomfortable situations while shopping in public and often don’t have dressing rooms that encompass their identity.
“Dell Thrift provides a solution for both of these issues, while also being a convenient, welcoming space for everyone on campus.”
Dell Thrift donations can be dropped off at the shop, campus laundry rooms, Schewel Hall, and the CCE. According to Schutter, they are particularly in need of casual men’s clothing and shoes.
Food for the pantry is provided by Park View Community Mission, a Lynchburg nonprofit, but unused, unexpired nonperishable food may be dropped off at several locations on campus.
In addition to Dell Thrift and Pantry, students may also visit food banks at the Spiritual Life Center and shop for free job interview clothing at Suit Yourself in Schewel Hall.