Out With the Old and In With the Used

A group of Ole Miss students gathered outside of the University of Mississippi’s Student Union.

By: Sophia von Seebach

Journalism Student

A group of Ole Miss students gathered outside of the University of Mississippi’s Student Union.

At the close of the 2022 spring semester at the University of Mississippi, students are looking toward life after classes conclude and tying up loose ends in the town that they have called home while at Ole Miss. There are many moving parts to leaving college, chief among these being the move-out.

Hailey Heller, a graduating senior at the University of Mississippi, said, “I’m putting it off as much as I can and waiting until the end of summer.”

Logistics plague many students who are unsure of what to do with used and unwanted furniture, clothes and home decor. While some look to outlets such as Facebook Marketplace and others check out second-hand stores, many express confusion about where to begin as they start new chapters in their lives.

Catherine Jeffers, a University of Mississippi senior who graduated this spring, said, “It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Graduation and the end of spring semester often signals the end of several leases, and the beginnings of new jobs and opportunities. Exiting seniors are moving far and wide, wondering what to do with the remnants of their undergraduate life.

“I’ve already sold most of [my furniture] because I’m trying to get a job in New York,” said Jeffers, who is originally from Orlando, Florida. “I don’t really have any desire to lug things from Oxford to Orlando to New York.”

Most of Jeffers’s furniture was sold to a younger friend, so she did not have to market most of her used pieces.

“Personally, I would choose word-of-mouth first, asking people if they need something,” Jeffers said. “I think it’s easier to get the word around faster because with Facebook Marketplace you kind of have to rely on them to put your postings onto people’s feeds.”

Despite her word-of-mouth strategy, Jeffers still has items to dispose of and is utilizing Facebook Marketplace, a forum where people can sell used and unwanted items. Facebook groups, such as “Oxford’s Largest Marketplace (Buy/Sale/Skills 4 hire)”, count more than 32,000 members.

A screenshot of a recent listing on “Oxford’s Largest Marketplace (Buy/Sale/Skills 4 hire)”

Jeffers said that Facebook Marketplace is beneficial because, “You’re going to make a profit on what you’ve bought and only used for like, six months. I think we’re in a mindset, as college students, to make money wherever we can. So if we can make at least some money back from what we bought a year ago, that’s a win-win.”

Heller sold the majority of her furniture on Facebook Marketplace, specifically hard-to-haul items such as a bed, mattress, couch, kitchen table and chairs.

So did Jeffers, but she believes her four poster bed frame likely will go unsold because it doesn’t come apart. However, she’s donating all unsold items to second-hand stores in Oxford. “If I can’t make any money off of it, I don’t want to throw it awaywhen someone in need could use it,” she said.

Similarly, Lee Martin, owner of a property management company in Oxford, deals with left and forgotten items from past tenants.

“Whatever they leave at the end of the lease is considered to be abandonment, and I can have it hauled off, thrown away or whatever needs to be done with it,” said Martin.

According to Martin, most of these items are thrown away, but occasionally past tenants leave functional furniture.

“Out of 20 or so move-outs a year, I probably get one or two that will leave some furniture,” Martin said. “If it’s usable, I’ll donate it to charity and they’ll come pick it up.”

The Salvation Army, which is located on West Oxford Loop, is a resale store that accepts donations. Regional Director Cindy Smith said that during college move-out season, “We’re always pulling in stuff. It may be a bag of clothes, but it also may be a trailer load of all kinds of stuff.”

The small building houses donation of all kinds, with long aisles of clothing wrapping around the entire store. Furniture lines the walls and various knick knacks fill the empty spaces. However, it is during college move-out that the store truly fills.

“We’ve had times where we’ve pulled up and the whole front porch was just completely- I mean and this is overnight- it’s just completely full, or all down the side of the building,” said Smith.

In order to keep up with the vast amount of donations, the Salvation Army sets up multiple donation sites. Smith said the organization usually parks a truck and sets up a tent to make it easy to accept donations from students leaving Oxford.

A map of Oxford, Miss., that shows the locations of the three second-hand stores.

Although donations remain high, Smith did say that the increased use of Facebook Marketplace has some impact on the kind of donations the Salvation Army receives, but this shift among graduating students has had a minimal impact on the organization. Not only do proceeds from donated items go toward various programs, but also directly impact the community and surrounding municipalities.

“A lot of times we’ll have somebody who has maybe been in a domestic situation, and they need help restarting,” Smith said. “We let them have some furniture when we have it in, clothes and things like that, and we help them stock up their cabinets.”

People shopping at Goodwill

Goodwill, located on Jackson Avenue, is another donation site college seniors can take their unwanted items too. Haliegh Hillman, Goodwill worker, has been with the company for nearly a year.

“It usually starts around end of June and ends around early September. It’s a little crazy because we get all of the donations of all the stuff that people who are moving out, they bring all the stuff they don’t want to take with them, and a lot of the people coming out of the dorms,” Hillman said. “We have so much to handle here that sometimes you’re just sitting up there, processing stuff, and then you just see a trailer or a whole U-haul full of stuff. You see that and you’re just like ‘oh goodness.’ ”

According to Hillman, the volume of donations Goodwill receives has not been impacted by the use of Facebook Marketplace. Last year, the organization received an abundance of donations that filled the store and employees had to work outside to process additional items.

Goodwill’s profits from the sale of donated items are used not only to employ workers, but also to benefit charities. For example, the change round-up at the registers goes to the Excel School in Memphis, which helps adults earn high school diplomas.

An aisle in Holding Hands that is filled with donated items.

Holding Hands is another of Oxford’s resale shops and is located on North Lamar Boulevard. It is also one of the few stores that accept calls to pick up donations. The local charity was founded in Oxford in 2013 and proceeds go toward employing mentally challenged youth.

“It’s crazy. We already have calls for 15 condos,” said Holding Hands manager, Jenny Crowson. “We’re just lucky and thankful that people think of us like that.”

Holding Hands stores overflow donations in a rented storage pod and hires extra workers to help with the increased workload. Moving product quickly is vital to make room for more donations, and even though it can get hectic during this time of year, Crowson beamed when talking about the support of the community.

“We’re beyond grateful,” Crowson said.