Two years ago, on September 15, 2018, Aaron Marshall ’18 opened the doors to his nostalgic paradise—Naptown Thrift.
Retro hats and sports flags hang from the ceiling like streamers. The walls are plastered with an eclectic mix of movie posters, photographs, and album art from decades past—yes, Space Jam is on display. One clothing rack holds a vintage Chicago Bulls jersey, while another holds a Bugs Bunny crewneck. The entire shop is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored.
The collection has been years in the making. When Marshall was young, his parents encouraged him to explore his interest in ’80s and ’90s style at second hand stores in the area.
“That kind of got the bug in me initially to be interested in the hunt,” Marshall says, “you know, finding cool stuff and never knowing what’s going to be there and checking in on things daily.”
By the time Marshall arrived as a first-year student on Butler University’s campus, he had filled a small storage unit to the brim with vintage finds. That’s when he began to consider starting a business.
“Initially, it was just me meeting up with friends from Butler, letting them dig through our finds, and kind of just throwing in prices on the fly,” Marshall says. “I think those were honestly some of my favorite Butler memories—taking my friends to that storage unit and just seeing their eyes light up.”
In 2015, Marshall created an Instagram account for the “store,” and business started booming.
Marshall and his parents grew out of their storage unit into another. And then another. Vintage aficionados from near and far contacted Marshall to see the collection and purchase products. Naptown Thrift quickly became a staple in the Indianapolis vintage scene, featured in Indianapolis Business Journal and highlighted in Visit Indy.
Naptown Thrift was not Marshall’s only endeavor to gain a significant following during his years at Butler. As a Recording Industry Studies major, he also attracted fans through his music. Under the stage name Double A, Marshall has made strides in the Indianapolis hip-hop community, with three albums and a performance at the Chreece music festival under his belt.
In 2018, Marshall graduated from Butler and was faced with the question of his future. In the end, the success of Naptown Thrift provided the answer Marshall was looking for.
“I was wondering what I wanted to do after school,” Marshall says. “But at the same time, I already knew what I wanted to do after school. It was this.”
After three years of running Naptown Thrift from social media and storage units, Marshall opened a brick and mortar store. But about a year later, disaster struck.
In October 2019, the restaurant next door to Marshall’s shop caught on fire, causing extensive smoke damage to Naptown Thrift and all its products. The shop underwent a massive deep cleaning and was temporarily closed for nearly four months.
Naptown Thrift announced its grand reopening for February 29, 2020, and loyal shoppers—many of them Butler students—waited in massive lines to sift through the racks.
Two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Luckily, Marshall was prepared for this disaster.
“Everything shifted to online,” Marshall says. “Actually, we already had our website in place, thanks to Butler: Part of my capstone was building our website senior year. So that was a pretty easy transition. But it was still adversity.”
Despite the ups and downs of Naptown Thrift’s young existence, Marshall celebrated the shop’s two-year anniversary on Tuesday, September 15.
You can keep up with Marshall and Naptown Thrift on the store’s Instagram page.
Some of Marshall’s favorite Butler memories:
- Opening for T-Pain in the Reilly Room: “My sophomore year, T-Pain came to Butler and sold out, and me and another classmate of mine were the openers. That was my first time performing in front of 400-plus people. And, I mean, it was just cool. You can’t replicate that.”
- Hinkle Magic: “I was actually on the women’s basketball team practice squad, so they got a group of guys together to scrimmage against the women’s team at Butler. Getting to play on the floor of Hinkle is just something not many people can say they’ve done. I wasn’t playing in a real game, but you look up and you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m playing in Hinkle right now.’”
- Community of Care: “Butler is a special place, and I get a lot of support still with the store from classmates at Butler, and then with music stuff. They’re still sharing everything that I release. The people that I met at Butler still definitely are showing support, whether they are in Indy or somewhere else.”