Hobo Shoppe looks to spread Hobo Day spirit


Katherine Clayton

The 2014 Hobo Day has come and gone but Hobo day can still be felt around campus through products sold from the Hobo Shoppe.

The Hobo Shoppe is a business that was started by Nick Wendell, the director of student engagement, in 2012 to celebrate 100 years of Hobo Day. The shop is open the 10 days leading up to Hobo Day. Wendell said that the shop will be open sometime before the holiday season but the exact dates have not been set.

“We thought there was an opportunity to expand the market a little bit and offer different types of gift products and apparel,” Wendell said.

Wendell said the shop’s goal is to go beyond the yearly Hobo Day shirts and buttons. The shop was created to attract students, faculty and community members. In addition to selling Hobo Day memorabilia, the shop benefits the Hobo Day Committee.

“The long-term goal is for the Hobo Shoppe to be able to supplement Hobo Day finances,” said Scott DesLauriers, the 2014 Hobo Day Grand Pooba.

“As Hobo Day continues to grow, the expenses continue to grow as well,” DesLauriers said. “We’re always looking for avenues where we can become more self-sustainable.”

The shop has not gotten to the point where it can fully support the Hobo Day Committee or Hobo Day because the shop has only been open for three years.

“It’s never really been about generating revenue for another other unit on campus,” Wendell said.

In addition to helping to fund Hobo Day in the future, the shop helps to create the Hobo Day brand.

“I think the Hobo Shoppe just brings that brand, brings that product, brings those materials to those people,” DesLauriers said.

There is a wide variety of products in the shop including: the traditional Hobo Day shirt and buttons, crew-neck sweatshirts, jewelry, accessories and more.

According to Wendell, this year the shop worked more closely with local artists than they have in the past.

“There is opportunity to generate revenue [through consignment] and also an opportunity for those local artists and local vendors to showcase their product more months out of the year and in different markets, one of them being on campus,” Wendell said.

The shop focuses on having a variety of items instead of having large quantities of one particular item. Wendell said this type of model helps to limit risk of having a lot of leftover items.

Another element of the Hobo Shoppe is that the store is student driven.

“Our students are the face of the Hobo Shoppe,” Wendell said.

Students are in charge of selling the items, stocking shelves and giving opinions about what products they want to see in the shop.

“We have such a time honored tradition on campus, when students can buy a T-shirt that is linked to Hobo Day somehow,” Wendell said. “It is another way to celebrate and boost that spirit and I think Hobo Day is just linked out institution’s identity.”

Wendell extends a thank you to everyone is helped to make the Hobo Shoppe successful.

“It was a tiny little venture, built in a storage closet in The Union,” Wendell said. “We wouldn’t still be there if there weren’t folks still streaming through the doors and enjoying the product every year.”