Penn State Senior is bringing back the old in style with a successful thrift business

Looking for vintage Penn State gear at an affordable price?

Penn State senior Emma Sirken, who owns the savings account @emmthrifts on Instagram, can be found selling vintage Penn State apparel, from T-shirts to crewnecks, at pop-up events throughout State College downtown.

Courtesy of Emma Sirken

Sirken first entered the fashion industry when she was in high school and initially planned to go to school for photojournalism and writing. However, she decided to change her career path and is currently studying psychology here at Penn State.

Sirken would sell clothes to close friends or people she thought would be interested through a private Snapchat story, even before she started her thrift account. After noticing a huge spike in interest, she decided to open an Instagram account dedicated to selling vintage clothing in the summer of 2021.

“I got into online shopping during COVID, and Instagram has a really good platform to grow your small business,” Sirken said. “Covid made it easier to really get into it and learn about the small businesses that other people had. I was able to grow my business and still sell a lot through Instagram Lives from other people. I worked my way through making connections with other small businesses and eventually worked my way up to being one of the businesses that people actually reach out to, which is pretty cool.”

When things started to open up again, Sirken was able to go to stores like Goodwill to find vintage clothing, which made the process of running her business a lot easier.

After starting school, Sirken started selling clothes through Instagram Lives and took her account more seriously. She was selling vintage Penn State collars at her first State College appearance, and a two-hour line formed before the event even started.

After the success of the pop-ups, Sirken knew she wanted to host and coordinate pop-ups with other local small businesses to give them exposure as well.

From there, she decided to do a pop-up at The Maxxen, who approached her after seeing the success and response of her first clothing drop.

“There’s a lot of preparation for pop-ups,” Sirken said. “I create flyers that grab people’s attention and promote my pop-ups everywhere I’ve promoted at Maxxen and all around the buildings at school, as well as post on my platform. I also make sure to price everything days in advance so I have plenty of time to count my supplies and make sure I have all the right hangers, supplies and [the] right shelf.”

In addition to his pop-ups, Sirken often posts merchandise purchases on his Instagram account via Lives and Stories.

Sirken has several pop-ups planned for the spring semester, including another at The Maxxen during Blue-White Weekend and one at Urban Outfitters. She also plans to throw a big end-of-semester event with everyone who reached out to her as part of her final goodbye to Penn State.

To find out when her next pop-ups and merch will be dropping, check back @emmthrifts on Instagram.

Evan Halfen is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, loudness, almost any beach, and his dogs, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can send all your suggestions, roasts and jokes to his Instagram: @e.evan.halfen.n.

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