Graduate student makes unique effort to support local artists

Many students at Fresno State make an effort to “go green,” but Alvaro Romero is taking a whole different approach to getting the word out about sustainability.

It took the graduate student about two weeks to open what he calls a sustainable lifestyle shop in the Warnor’s Theatre complex in downtown Fresno.

The shop is called “The Miscellaneous Trading Co.,” and stays true to the name by containing several distinct, recycled objects that Romero hopes will encourage people to buy used items.

Fourth-year interior design students Jolene Millar and Miguel Castañeda visited the sustainable lifestyle shop and were impressed by Romero’s store and efforts to promote local artists.

“I really like the way he organized his merchandise,” Castañeda said. “The way he had it set up was really cool.”

Romero’s store sells a variety of different things such as jewelry, clothing, artwork, furniture and home accents.

“Our push is really on sustainable consumption, so we want to make sure that when people shop here they get that message,” Romero said. “We do a little bit of everything here and we’re called Miscellaneous for that reason.”

Romero has always made it a priority to buy used items and hopes to encourage others to do the same by offering unique items.

“A lot of our pieces here are made by local artists and they are handcrafted,” Romero said.

The jewelry is one of the many items at the store that is handcrafted. The jewelry is made by a woman who uses vintage pieces and comes up with her own designs.

“We also have a bag maker who is local,” Romero said. “He makes bags from vintage canvas and vintage leather so this is all collected from belt buckles and different types of leather that they find and then they make their own designs.”

Another thing that inspired Romero to open the store was to raise awareness about local artists he feels are not getting the attention and money they deserve.

He said people are drawn to purchasing new items, but doing so can cause large struggles for local artists.

“When you take into account who is making those clothes and who is profiting and who is losing that’s where I come in,” Romero said. “I’m not interested in new. I’m interested in things that are being crafted by hand and [are] generating jobs in this area.”

“It’s great for this community since [it tries] to support the art community, and especially the younger art community,” Millar said.

Romero said he is always looking for artists to contribute pieces to the store. He encourages artistic Fresno State students to contact him if they are interested in selling any of their handmade items, or display them inside the store.

The store, located at 2017 Tuolumne St., will have its grand opening celebration on April 5. Store hours are Tues. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call the shop at (559) 237-8800.

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