Favorite word turns into ‘dope’ business for USC student

ccope@thestate.comJuly 27, 2013 

The worst job Shawn Beach has ever had was when he worked as a dishwasher at a chain restaurant.

But that job was simply a means to an end to get him to the best job he’s ever had. The rising junior at the University of South Carolina washed dishes just long enough to raise money to start his own business, an online thrift store called Dope Junkyard.

“Dope is my favorite word,” said the 19-year-old, using the word to mean “cool.”

And everything he sells on the website must meet his dope standards. The website’s home page features a graphic with the head of a tiger on a human’s body in a suit with a cane. The “About” page has a description of the store with a mix of graphics with the same tiger-human holding a newspaper, a howling wolf, an old stereo and more random items. For $20, a customer can buy a Jimi Hendrix vinyl or tortoise glasses with clear lenses.

On the higher end, a women’s coral dress with three-quarter length sleeves is $75. And on the low end, a men’s “green sea” short-sleeved collared shirt with fish and shapes in the pattern costs $5.

Beach insists on urban items with a mixture of old and new.

“I’m picky with what I select,” he said. “I don’t want this to be just like every other store.”

His clientele is from all over the world: He has had customers from places including New York, California, Canada and Amsterdam.

Beach was a business major but switched because he hates math. He now studies retail, and even though his education coincides with his business, he is ready to finish his degree and be his own boss full time.

“I really didn’t want to work for anybody else,” Beach said.

He does most of the work on his own: researching merchandise options, working on the website and sending off packages. Occasionally, his mom will help him if he gets too busy.

He said he learned a lot watching people outside of the classroom, seeing who makes it in business and who doesn’t.

Beach’s academic adviser Reenea Harrison said he is a rare student, being an entrepreneur while still in school. She said he sets an example for others.

“We have students who do things like that once they graduate, but Shawn is a very ambitious person, and he is already working on his business,” Harrison said.

Beach said he wakes up excited to work on his business and is glad that he’s not making food or doing office work.

While Beach can sell his goods online from anywhere, he wants at least one storefront someday, possibly in California, which he described as a creative state with a totally different vibe – a vibe that fits his business.

A business, as the tigerhuman says in a speech bubble on the website, that just might be “The Dopest Online Thrift Store.”

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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