That awkward little space in the MU Student Center finally found its niche this year.
The space is owned by the Mizzou Entrepreneurship Program, and if students win the opportunity, they can run their own store from the space. Previous stores have been underwhelming and not very successful. This year, however, was different.
When seniors Zach Beattie and Kate Gallagher were freshmen, they decided they wanted to do something with the space.
After experimenting with various ideas, Beattie, Gallagher and seniors Natalie Cheng and Devin Kelsey came up with the idea for Quirks, a consignment shop that sells art made by MU students. This allowed the four students to create their own store without having to buy many materials upfront, while also supporting student artists.
“We took the idea and ran with it,” Beattie said.
The four then presented this idea to the Mizzou Entrepreneurship Program, which granted them the space for their senior year.
“Students like to support one another, and students at Mizzou have a talent to produce various pieces of art,” said business professor Gregory Bier, who oversees the entrepreneurship program. “Quirks brings these attributes together and allows students to purchase pieces of locally owned items crafted by other students.”
The four brought on others to help as owners of the store. After the store opened, they brought on 12 interns to work there.
“It almost made itself into this,” Beattie said. “This” being the bright canvases, shiny jewelry, stitched clothing and other quirky items that hang on the walls and line the tables at Quirks.
Quirks’ infectious attitude was hard to miss. From the human sculpture made of Ramen noodles to the 10-percent off discounts if you brought in a parking ticket or a fake ID, Quirks felt less like a business and more like a hangout for students created by students. They even got Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin to come teach students how to tie a bow tie, which is really all we wanted to know when we met him.
The most important achievement, though, was that Quirks had more than 120 students sell their art, many for the first time.
“This was never just our store,” Kelsey said. “This was their store, too, and it seemed like nearly every customer had a friend who was a member of the Quirks family.”
The store brought an estimated $16,000 to student artists, which Beattie said was a major accomplishment.
The founders of Quirks wanted to get the store to stay longer, but because of the Entrepreneurship Program, that wasn’t possible.
“It makes me think we were a success when we tell (people) we’re leaving, and they’re really upset,” Beattie said.
And we’re sad, too. Maybe they can just barricade the doors with Ramen noodle packets and refuse to leave?