The prices for a woman’s formal dress at Dillard’s range from $37- $1,198, according to the store’s website. The price range for a formal dress according to the JCPenney website is approximately $30- $150. But on the Harding University Formal Dress Exchange Facebook page, dress rentals start free, and the average listed price is $20.
Juniors Michalie Brown and Ashley Buckner created the Harding University Formal Dress Exchange Facebook page. Brown said she was searching for a dress to wear to her club’s formal, but she did not expect the page to become popular.
“(The Facebook page has) helped other people out,” Brown said. “We are all college students — we know what it is like to be broke — and it is so much easier to get on there and find something that works, and you can rent it for $15-20 instead of having to go to Little Rock and try on a million dresses.”
Freshman Anna Fox said she has made $80 so far by renting out her dresses on the page. Some students post shoes, jewelry and other formal accessories for sale or rent.
“I think it’s a super cool page and very helpful for those wanting dresses or wanting to make a little money,” Fox said.
The Facebook page is a closed group and hosts 1,081 members. Brown and Buckner are administrators on the page and approve a request to join after confirming that the requester is a Harding female. Brown said this ensures the page does not deviate from its purpose.
“The page is where friends come together to help one another out to find a dress for upcoming events and hopefully relieve some stress of online searching or breaking the bank at pricy department stores,” Buckner said.
Brown said she and Buckner have created a second Facebook page, Harding University Online Garage Sale, for Harding students to sell other items such as school supplies, books or unwanted dorm decor.
“(The Facebook pages are) a way to be a much more efficient university,” Brown said. “We go out and buy all this stuff, but people here already have it, so we don’t need to go buy (it).”