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Ruduce, reuse, recycle, retail at Planet Earth

New shop offers a second chance to old favorites

by Laren Ruskin

Dee Dee Lafferty believes in giving new life to everything, even Planet Earth. Everything at her new store in Oberlin is recycled or reused, including the store location. Next to the Mandarin, the "recycled vintage" store Planet Earth makes its home where the Fève's old smoking lounge used to be.

After scrubbing smoke-stained ceilings and dirty walls, and repainting and redecorating the entire store with pictures, art and recycled goods, owner Lafferty, 26, of North Ridgeville first opened the doors May 21, the weekend before Commencement.

The store boasts that everything is in at least its second cycle, including clothes, bicycles, radios, furniture and other odds and ends. Most of the clothes, which seem to run towards vintage 1970s stuff, come in as donations and are "definitely in style now. But it's really vintage," Lafferty said. She and her parents also find things at garage sales, stores and wherever things happen to pop up.

While it's not a "thrift store" to Lafferty, the prices are still targeted to fit a college student's budget. "I'm a thrift shop person myself," Lafferty admitted. "I believe in recycling everything." What donations she doesn't sell in the shop go to GoodWill or shelters. She and her family take old furniture, stereos, bicycles and restores them so they can be re-used. Customers who donate plastic bags get a discount off their purchase.

Lafferty also gets art on consignment from local artists. While she was preparing the store for its opening, she posted signs and ran advertisements notifying local artists of the new shop. Candles, jewelry and cards in the store were all made by visiting artists, as were some of the clothes.

Gift cards made of recycled paper and decorated with different earth-happy images were the work of one Oberlin artist. Candles are made with recycled wax and displayed near recycled glass bottles designed to hold drip candles.

When she was in college, Lafferty came to Oberlin to visit and eat lunch occasionally, and really liked the atmosphere and people in town. She decided to work for herself, she said, "after I worked my butt off for all of my life for other people. And no one believed I'd do it," she said concerning her opening her own business.

Why she picked Oberlin as the sight for her first store seemed obvious to her. Oberlin has always had the type of atmosphere she was comfortable in. Planet Earth "is definitely a store that woudn't go over at a lot of places, but Oberlin's perfect," she said. She also cited how many businesses were moving away from downtown areas, and that Oberlin was a nice mix of stores and other enterprises.

She also runs a deli inside a laundromat in Cleveland which is owned by a friend. While they were giving it a face lift, it kept changing. Now it's a "kid-oriented" place with a clown and playland inside. She spends about 75 percent of her time at Planet Earth, however.

Doria Phelps Hughes, OC '96, works at Planet Earth. She also makes herbal cosmetics, incense and teas and schedules tarot readings and horoscope consultations for customers upon request.

She graduated from Oberlin in May, majoring in Anthropology and Comparative Literature - German and French major. But she's self-taught in the art of herbal healing. As a Fairchild RC for three years, she would hold "spa nights" where people could learn to make cosmetic masks and teas for different ailments.

She came up to Oberlin for the year to be with her while he finishes his fifth year. She wanted to take a year off to decide what to do with her life, and wanted to do something that wasn't "intesively academically oriented."

They plan to advertise the store and all the different services that are available to customers. The fact that customers give to and receive from the store makes it an interactive experience for the customers, and a place where they can learn not to take for granted things that are assumed to be trash.

Calling all hippies: Vintage clothing and candles fill teh new PLanet Earth. The store sells only items in at least their second stage.(photo by Carissa Romano)


Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 2; September 13, 1996

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