KENOSHA, Wis. — What seems to be nearly every day, Michelle Ishmael gathers donations for the Northside Outfitters thrift shop from the bin in the lobby of Bradford High School. 

What You Need To Know

  • Michelle Ishmael started what was known as a hygiene product shop in her classroom in March 2020

  • Schools shut down because of COVID-19 the same day it was supposed to open

  • Now, that same hygiene product shop is a full-fledged thrift shop

  • Students at Bradford High School can shop in the thrift store for free

Bags of clothes — including shirts, sweaters, hoodies, shoes and more — regularly get dropped off by people in the district and around the Kenosha community. 

“When I see that it’s full, or that there are new things added that I need to get on, it makes me feel good,” Ishmael said.

She sorts the clothes by color before washing them, which she said is a must before putting them on the racks in the classroom connected to her own, which she has turned into a thrift store. 

But Bradford High School students have never paid a dime at this store. 

“Everything is free! That’s the best part of this,” Ishmael said. “There’s no fee, there’s no requirement, there’s no checking. Kids can just come in and get what they need, and there is no stigma attached to it.”

Students have taken advantage of the store since the day it opened, which was the same day the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools in March 2020.

Danyka Kordus, a senior this year at Bradford, said she has found a lot of nice items in the store, not only for herself, but for her family, too.

“Like, winter clothing, like, longer sleeve shirts, or sweatshirts and stuff,” Kordus said.

Indya Muhammad, another Bradford senior, said aside from clothes, there are also things student can pick up in case of emergency throughout the day. Sometimes that involves clothing, like if a student spilled their drink on them at lunch, or something ripped during the day. 

“They have like, women’s pads and stuff here. Then they even have small socks. Say you forgot socks for gym and you forgot them, so you can get a pass for here, and Ms. Ishmael has all of that type of stuff for immediate needs and will come in handy,” Muhammad said.

Kordus and Muhammad both said they like that students can shop after school with others, and that the store offers private shopping by appointment too.

“I think it’s great especially for people who don’t have access to stuff,” Kordus said. “Like, it’s a very open place, it’s very inviting — they have basically everything you need, and it’s kind of a safe space.”

Northside Outfitters always accepts donations, but the store is mostly in need of hygiene products, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. They said they could also benefit from men’s underwear and socks.

You can donate to the thrift store by dropping it off at Bradford High School.