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Blazer Student Store Expands

This article appeared in a February 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

The Blazer Student Store is now located in A-223. Outside the store is a covered area for coffee and conversation. A “Grand Opening” celebration will be held Feb. 11. | Photo by Joanna Mikolajczak, News-Register

By Sasha Ceart, Student Staff Writer, News-Register

Over the winter break, the Blazer Student Store was relocated to a larger area in A-223 to accommodate the needs of the students.

Not only did the store increase in floor space, but it came with an outside area that has been converted into a gathering spot for conversation and coffee.

The pantry is stocked with food donated by Dr. Gabriel Bach’s government students. The clothing racks and shelves are full with items donated by students, faculty and staff.

“I’m proud to be part of an organization that cares for more than just the academic life of its students, employees and community,” said Dr. Christa Slejko, North Lake College’s president. “I’m proud that it has become a sustainable part of the college, and it is part of our identity.”

Displays show the awesome clothing donations. News-Register l Joanna Mikolajczak

Displays show the awesome clothing donations. News-Register l Joanna Mikolajczak

For those new to the college, the Blazer Student Store is a thrift store where students can find gently used or new clothing, school supplies, knick-knacks and canned food. What makes it so unique is its method of purchasing these items, because the store does not accept U.S. currency. Instead, Blazer Bucks are used, and students can acquire them by trading items from home for the bucks.

Everyone is welcome to shop Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Wednesday evenings from 5-7:30 p.m.

The new addition of the coffee bar outside the store’s location has been exciting for many. A bar and three stools fill the area, and will be used monthly when the new editions of the News-Register hit the stands.

The bar was made by Mike McKee of the North Lake Theatre department. It was used in a play, Bus Riley’s Back in Town, and is on loan to the store.

When not in use by the News-Register, the coffee bar space can be used by clubs for fundraisers, meetings or club promotions. Club members will be responsible for their own supplies and should speak to the Blazer Store Manager for scheduling.

The success of the store depends on many volunteers, including those from the Service Learning program who earn hours working behind the desk or at store-related events, like Santa Bucks.

The Blazer Ambassadors, a student club created to enrich the college-life experience, plans events on campus that bring awareness to the store. In the past, they have held fashion shows and talents shows. Last month, the Blazer Ambassadors, Journalism Club, Student Life and Service Learning student volunteers set up the 14th annual Santa Bucks event, a free shopping spree for everyone that included donated items from the store and community. More than 300 people shopped for themselves and their families on that one day, and Dr. Bach’s students donated 4,912 cans of food.

Students and staff prepare for the opening of the brand new Blazer Coffee Bar. News-Register l Joanna Mikolajczak

Students and staff prepare for the opening of the brand new Blazer Coffee Bar. News-Register l Joanna Mikolajczak

The first Santa Bucks event in 2002 brought to light the need for a student store. It caught the attention of the Journalism Club members, and the once-a-year event turned into a daily store in fall 2011.

“The thing I loved most about the Blazer Store concept was that it is a place created by students, operated by students, to benefit students,” said Slejko.

“The store contributes to social sustainability, providing resources to those in need in our community. The store also represents the best of both economic and environmental sustainability providing a means to reuse, recycle, and repurpose clothing and accessories,” commented Slejko.

Of course, the success of Santa Bucks and the Blazer Student Store has depended on the generosity of North Lake College students and employees.

Thousands of people have benefitted from the items received from the Blazer Student Store and the Santa Bucks events.

To volunteer, come by A-234, A-223 or email