KENOSHA, Wis. – What seems to be almost every day, Michelle Ishmael collects donations for thrift store Northside Outfitters from the bin in the hall of Bradford High School.
What do you want to know
- Michelle Ishmael opened what was called a hygiene products shop in her classroom in March 2020
- Schools closed due to COVID-19 on the same day they were supposed to open
- Now that same personal hygiene store is a thrift store in its own right
- Students at Bradford High School can shop for free in the thrift store
Bags of clothing — including shirts, sweaters, hoodies, shoes and more — are regularly dropped off by residents of the Kenosha district and community.
“When I see it’s full, or there are new things I need to add, it makes me feel good,” Ishmael said.
She sorts the clothes by color before washing them, which she says is essential before putting them away on the racks in the classroom adjoining hers, which she has turned into a thrift store.
But Bradford High School students have never paid a penny at this store.
” Everything is free ! That’s the best part of it all,” Ishmael said. “There are no fees, there are no requirements, there is no verification. Kids can just walk in and get what they need, and there’s no stigma attached to it.
Students have enjoyed the store since opening day, which was the same day the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March 2020.
Danyka Kordus, a senior this year at Bradford, said she found lots of lovely items in the store, not just for herself but also for her family.
“Like, winter clothes, like long-sleeved shirts, or sweatshirts and all that,” Kordus said.
Indya Muhammad, another Bradford senior, said apart from clothes, there were also things students could pick up in case of emergencies throughout the day. Sometimes it involves clothes, like a student spilling their drink on it at lunch or something ripped during the day.
“They have ladies towels and stuff here. Then they even have little socks. Suppose you forgot socks for the gym and forgot them, so you can get a pass for here, and Mrs. Ishmael has all that stuff for immediate needs and will come in handy,” Muhammad said. .
Both Kordus and Muhammad said they like that students can shop after school with others, and that the store also offers private shopping by appointment.
“I think it’s great, especially for people who don’t have access to things,” Kordus said. “Like, it’s a very open place, it’s very inviting – they have pretty much everything you need, and it’s kind of a safe space.”
Northside Outfitters is still accepting donations, but the store’s main needs are hygiene products, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. They said they could also benefit from men’s underwear and socks.
You can donate to the thrift store by dropping it off at Bradford High School.