Iowa City high school students won’t need to shop far for prom dresses this year, as consignment store Stuff Etc. will be hosting Project Prom, a community initiative to provide donated formal dresses to high school students at a low cost.
“We have quite a few individuals that come in looking for a less expensive way to have a fun prom each year,” says Jodi Hagerty, marketing director at Stuff Etc.
While the cost of prom does continue to drop across the nation, hosting the event will ensure the consignment store has the resources to make a fun and affordable night happen for many area girls. The average cost of a Midwest prom night was $835 in 2014, according to a nationwide survey by Visa.
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore Director Heath Brewer says he is happy to support the event and save money for community members.
“I’ve got 4 daughters, and they’ll need dresses someday,” he adds.
An inevitable team
Stuff, as it’s lovingly known by, teamed up with the Iowa City East Side Recycling Center and ReStore this year to provide a more shopper-friendly location for the event. In the past, Project Prom has taken place at the recycling center, where dressing rooms are nonexistent.
Iowa City Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jordan says moving the event to Stuff was a no-brainer. Jordan has been organizing Project Prom since 2013, promoting the reuse of a total 345 dresses—150 of which were worn to an Iowa City High or Iowa City West High prom.
“I always look at things from a waste perspective,” says Jordan. “Project Prom gets things out of the landfill while encouraging local business.”
ReStore, which is accepting donations for the first time this year, has already filled four barrels of dresses.
“We haven’t said no to anything,” says Brewer. “We’re happy to see any dress come in.”
Brewer says that donations have gone as good as or even better than he expected, due to the store’s location on the extreme southeast side of Iowa City. While the store mainly accepts furniture donations, Brewer says that partnering with Project Prom just makes sense.
“We’re kind of a one-stop shop for people,” he adds.
Thrifting for a cause
Although dresses have been free in the past, they will cost $10 each this year, with proceeds going to United Action for Youth, a partner of both the City of Iowa City and Stuff, which regularly fundraises for local charities.
“We are always in the market to find new ways to recycle goods and keep as much stuff out of the landfill as we possibly can,” says Hagerty.
The store supports a different charity each month as part of its “Charity Umbrella” program. Shoppers are encouraged to donate in the umbrellas that overhang each register. Charitable accounts, which allow charities and other non-profits to raise money by consigning and selling items, are another way Stuff invests in the community.
“We’ve had a couple people who have dropped off dresses and thought that [Project Prom] was a great way to bring excitement to prom in a non-traditional way,” says Hagerty.
Shoppers are invited to both the Coralville and Iowa City Stuff Etc. locations Feb. 20-21. Donations are being accepted at Stuff Etc. and the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore through Feb. 13.
For more information, visit the City of Iowa City Project Prom page.
Read a similar article, “Making prom a special and affordable event,” by the Press Citizen.