A store employee tends to a shelf of vintage products

Building a Brand, Shirt by Shirt

Gang Green, Quack Attack, a case of the Sco Ducks—you name it, they have it at N.E.S.T., The Neighborhood Eugene Sustainability Team store.

Co-owners Eduardo Olivares, Class of 2022 (advertising), and Harrison Stevens ’20 (marketing) have the vintage apparel Ducks want. The pair recently opened their storefront to the public—located on 13th Avenue across from The Duck Store.

N.E.S.T. finds have been spotted on De’Anthony Thomas, Jaylan Jeffers, Sedona Prince, and others.

“We realized there was a need for vintage clothing here,” Olivares said. “We are the only curated vintage store in Eugene. We believe we have the biggest Duck section in the U.S.”

Olivares and Stevens met in one of the most “University of Oregon” ways—during the street fair.

Olivares was there with his inventory from BounceBack Thrifts, and Stevens was out representing his venture Stanley Thrifts.

“Harrison and I align and complement each other in many ways,” Olivares said. “We could talk for hours about the stitching or a tab on a shirt.”

After striking up a friendship, the pair decided to combine forces with N.E.S.T., which opened with a shop by appointment model in January 2021.

“We opened mid-pandemic, so trying to navigate that can be a challenge,” Olivares said. “To work around that, we started with an appointment-only model. That really helped us get our name out there. People came in one to three at a time and had a private shopping experience. We take COVID precautions seriously and were masked and taking temperatures at the door, and keeping track of who was at the store at what times.”

Now that the governor has lifted some COVID-related restrictions for businesses, N.E.S.T. is open five days a week.

Judging by the foot traffic, business is booming. Perhaps most impressive, Olivares and Stevens didn’t seek angel investors or receive funds from relatives for support.

“We made it happen with the 50 T-shirts that we had,” Olivares said.

Those T-shirts and other inventory are primarily sourced from flea markets, yard sales, and online scouting.

Some of those treasures are in the “archive” section: the rarest pieces the N.E.S.T. crew hope to expand into a sort of Oregon apparel museum.

“That way alumni and current students can see the history,” Olivares said.

To help get the word out about the business, N.E.S.T. partnered with several student athletes, past and present.

“Now with NIL (name and likeness rights belonging to the student athlete) we’ve been able to do collaborations with different athletes,” Olivares said.

He mentioned UO Women’s Basketball forward Sedona Prince served as cashier for N.E.S.T. the first few hours of the fall street fair. The brand has also collaborated with football and track athletes, he added.

Athlete or not, the vintage look is tracking with students.

“It’s cool seeing freshmen that are born in 2002-2003 wearing crewnecks from 1995,” Olivares said. And with 5,000 new freshmen every year, the market keeps refreshing itself, he added. “The challenge for us is how do we maintain this relevancy and maintain this connection to the university.”

That’s where using current students as employees and ambassadors comes into play.

Along with Olivares and Stevens, N.E.S.T. counts four additional employees serving as cashiers—all UO students.

In the future, Olivares said N.E.S.T. hopes to partner with the sneaker industry and others for monthly events. Students could also sell merchandise they have created.

“We want to be more than just a vintage store,” he said. “We are a creativity outlet.”

The N.E.S.T. store itself is a community effort, with local craftsman creating everything from the N.E.S.T.-branded T-shirts to the store rack displays, Olivares said.

Got a great condition sweatshirt from the 90s in the back of your closet? N.E.S.T. also takes commissions for cash or store credit at its location at 870 E. 13th Avenue, on the second floor.

“The T-shirts of tomorrow are the T-shirts of yesterday,” Stevens said.

—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications