William & Mary dorm discards get second life at 3-day DormMania sale

WILLIAMSBURG - One man's trash is another's dorm furnishings.

Students, parents and even a few staffers congregated in front of William & Mary Hall Thursday for the university's first "DormMania" event, a student-organized, pre-used item sale that gets its stock from the previous year's discarded items.

"You'd be surprised the things people throw out," said international relations major Rukmini Bhugra. "One of my friends found an iPhone."

There may not have been a shiny iPhone 5 for sale in the white tent, but shoppers had plenty of cheaper than secondhand store pricing options—from furry blue pillows and a stacked wall of microwaves to fake eyelashes and tubs of hangers.

While this was the first year of the sale, the idea for the event has been in the works since sophomore biology major Audrey Kriva was inspired by a Post-Landfill Action Network presentation at Power Shift conference a year ago. PLAN is a non-profit founded by alumni at the University of New Hampshire to help other colleges launch programs to reduce campus waste.

"I was totally inspired by the speech that they gave and I came back to campus and after a couple of months started trying to pursue it myself," said Kriva who was a freshman at the time of the initial planning along with three other William & Mary students.

The group worked closely with campus administration to adapt a form of PLAN's pilot program at the University of New Hampshire that would best suit campus needs here. All items currently on sale were collected May 1-7 by a group of 80 student volunteers.

The sale officially started at 2 p.m. Thursday, but a crowd had already formed a line at the check-out 30 minutes prior with claimed objects in hand.

"So being in it's first year we weren't sure what to expect," said Bhugra, who is the "DormMania" volunteer coordinator. "We definitely weren't expecting a turnout like this, where everyone is shoulder to shoulder. Especially not at 2 o'clock."

Nearly all big ticket items (couches, chairs and shelving units) had been purchased 15 minutes into the sale. The event resumes Friday at 8 a.m. and will end Saturday at 2 p.m. The hope is to cater to arriving freshmen, some of who will likely be in need of dorm room essentials.

Kriva believes that the quantity of items like trash cans and throw pillows will leave something to sell to interested shoppers later in the event but is willing to admit it is possible that "DormMania" could run out of items.

"I would be surprised if we ran out," she said. "But I've been surprised before and I'll probably be surprised again. We'll see what the situation is on Saturday."

Any un purchased items at the end of the three-day-sale will be donated to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

The possibility of a lack of items, coupled with disappointment of missing out on cheap furniture, has some shoppers planning ahead for next year.

"I'm going to be here extra, extra early," said sophomore Alton Kim.

Want to go? DormMania continues Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. in the parking lot at William & Mary Hall.