Clothes for a cause: Sante Fe student upcycles vintage finds to support young athletes
Owen Dominger walked into Crunch Fitness gym on a recent weekday afternoon with a caffeinated beverage in his right hand and his phone playing Spotify in his left. The workout playlist buzzed through his AirPods so loudly, leaving the rest of the world on mute. After pumping weights, he left with his wallet $50 lighter.
Dominger’s $50 went to a pop-up shop owned by Josh Biringer located just inside the Gainesville gym’s entrance. It’s just two racks stuffed with retro clothing and a foldable table with his laptop. It was hard for any gym attendee to miss the hundreds of shirts that Biringer had on display.
“After a great workout, the dopamine pumping through my brain makes it pretty hard not to buy something. I want to reward myself for my hard work,” said Dominger, a 20-year-old Santa Fe business major. “I ended up buying a retro Gators jacket for $35 and a Marvel shirt for $15.”
Biringer, a 20-year-old ex-college baseball player who attends Santa Fe, has been thrifting since the beginning of the 2023 spring semester, where he attended Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne. He travels to local thrift stores and buys clothing that he feels could be resold for more. About twice a week, Biringer sets up shop at Crunch Fitness or outside Savion Park Apartments.
“I am essentially giving old clothes that had been thrown away a new life,” Biringer said. “A lot of people don’t know that they are throwing away designer or other high-value clothing. Every time I go to a thrift store, I find clothing that could be resold for a lot higher than the price tag.”
After completing a background check, Crunch Fitness allowed Josh to set up at any time for free, he just has to notify them when he is coming.
“We’ve never had any trouble with a small business or student that wants to come in and showcase a product,” said 21-year-old Crunch Manager Adrian Manach. “If you appear to be a decent human being, we will give you a foldable table and a space to set up.”
Biringer was introduced to the side hustle by his former teammate Gavin Zieglar, 20, of Melbourne.
“I started thrifting in my senior year of high school. I kept a bin full of thrifted t-shirts in a chemistry storage closet and sold them during lunch,” Zieglar said. “I took Josh with me to a Melbourne thrift store after practice one day. After that, he started taking all my customers.”
Biringer even has some regulars, like 20-year-old UF economics major Aidan Gohringer and 22-year-old UF advertising major Louis Kelleher.
“I usually go to Crunch on Monday afternoons because Josh is probably going to be there,” Gohringer said. “I always like to see what he’s selling.”
“Whenever I need something for a tailgate or gameday, I hit up Josh,” Kelleher said.
Biringer has spent $2,500 on clothing, racks, and hangers. His clothing sales have topped $3,900. Not all of that income stays in his pocket, as Biringer donates to local youth baseball and softball organizations. Growing up, he said he played with rusted bats and a glove with holes in it. He doesn’t want youth players to use lackluster equipment like he did.
“I thought I could combine my love for vintage clothing with helping the community,” Biringer said. “If I can profit and help future athletes, then that’s a win-win.”
Biringer donated $300 to South Beaches Little League last spring. He said the money went toward buying catching gear for the 9-12 and the 13-15 baseball and softball age divisions. He plans to donate about half of his January and February profits to Gainesville Youth Sports once their spring season starts in early March.
“Donations help with scholarships for players that can’t afford registration and also with purchase of equipment,” William Hooper, the director of operations at GYS, said. “At times newer equipment is needed due to wear and tear over usage.”
Parents of GYS players are grateful for the donations from people like Biringer. Fernando Hedmont, a 47-year-old county employee whose daughter plays softball at GYS, said that if GYS can provide as much as possible, it allows children to play even if their parents cannot afford equipment.
“I have spent hundreds on gloves, helmets, batting gloves and all the other accessories my daughter needs,” Hedmont said. “It tallies up pretty quickly, which is why people like Josh are so important.”
“It’s not every day that you see a college kid donating his money to an organization he believes in. Even if I made the money Josh makes, I wouldn’t even consider donating it,” said Carter Cummings, Biringer’s childhood friend and 19-year-old UF business major. “It just shows how generous a kid Josh is. He has been that way for as long as I’ve known him.”