(Photo courtesy of: Alison Parker) “The ACE committee has been dedicated to hosting amazing events for students.”
“We’re all students. I’m broke, you’re probably broke— That’s just how it is.” Collin Gallagher, a Junior Finance major and President of UML Association for Campus Events (ACE) believes that supporting thrift culture and local vendors is the perfect way for college students to save some dollars.
This past Thursday, Nov. 16, UML ACE put on their second annual Hidden Gems Market, where local vendors set up shop right in the heart of University Crossing. Among these sellers included Lowell’s own Holy Grail Vintage, handmade jewelry shop Gold Star Designs, and several other amazing participants.
Gallager set up the first ever Hidden Gems Market last year in 2022, and this year has handed it over to UML ACE’s Director of Special Events, Madison Rowley. “This year it is being planned by Maddy who I have been working with along the way. She has done a fantastic job, we have nearly tripled the scale of the event from the previous year. That was all her doing—she really hit it out of the park,” Gallager said.
However, it wasn’t all that simple at the start. “It was very hard to get approved, we had some difficulties because it was such a different event that hasn’t been done in ACE. Now that we have already had one it has been a lot easier, and we want to make this an annual event,” Gallager said. Despite their initial challenges, ACE is hopeful that this event will continue to grow each year. “We have nearly tripled the scale of the event previously, I believe we had 5 vendors last year and now we have 15 this year,” Gallager said.
UML ACE is known on campus for being the hub of all things entertainment. Whether it be Big Prize Bingo, River Hawk Madness or Hidden Gems Market—the student run organization is sure to let the good times roll on campus. “Our goal for ACE is to put together events on campus that everyone can find appealing and could find fun:[To] really just give everybody a fun
experience,” said Gallager, who has taken away some important life lessons in his role as President. “I want a career in events so this really excites me, the work that we do, you know—it’s gotten me involved.”
Affordability for college students isnt UML ACE’s only goal for the Hidden Gems Market. Gallager believes that it is important to utilize ACE’s large platform to help others. “We want to uplift small businesses in the community. For them, it doesn’t cost them anything to come here… bring your clothes and merchandise, and set up a spot.” The Hidden Gems vendors list consists of small businesses and vintage sellers from the Greater Lowell community, with some shops even being run by UML students.
While other student organizations such as the UML Sustainability club have hosted thrift-esque events in the past—The Hidden Gems Market is surely doing something revolutionary by combining the sustainable aspect of repurposing clothes as well as promoting the growth of local businesses. “I see the importance of [shopping sustainably] because clothes are so mass produced and there are so many parties that get taken advantage of in the process,” said Gallager.
The event had an excellent turnout, with loads of students flooding in the UCrossing doors to check out the event. Members of the ACE E-Board were found greeting guests at a table at the event’s entrance, where they handed out custom reusable tote bags and vibrant colored Hidden Gems stickers.
Gallager, Rowley and the rest of ACE organization are hopeful for the future of Hidden Gems. “Maybe a few years from now when I graduate and when the rest of my E-board graduates, this will still be carried on and it will be a thing that the school and Lowell can participate in.” Events like Hidden Gems Market encourage students to get involved and come together as a community—whether you are an East Campus resident or a commuter student.
Gallager believes that ACE has their hands on a real gem with this innovativemarket. “There’s always gonna be an interest for cheap cool clothes.”