Located just north of LaVell Edwards Stadium, Preloved thrift store offers Provo a unique thrifting experience with a Finnish heritage.
As the daughter of a Finnish immigrant, Satu Kujanpaa’s Finnish heritage is an important part of her identity.
“My mom moved to the States to go to BYU when she was in her 20s.” Kujanpaa shares. “I grew up speaking Finnish as a first language, I’m a dual citizen of Finland [and the United States].”
Growing up, Kujanpaa spent April-August of most years in Finland with her mother. She feels a deep connection to the country, and has traveled back many times since.
In her travels, Kujanpaa became enamored with kirpputori: Finnish flea markets where sellers set up booths and sell their used items, still in good condition. Since returning as a young mother, Kujanpaa was thrilled with the selection available and the prices she could find for children’s items.
“I was the first at the market almost every day, and every time I would go I would find so many treasures. I’d spend about 300 euro, but it would cover all of my children’s needs for the entire following year.”
Back in the United States, Kujanpaa was less pleased with the thrifting experiences available. She was especially frustrated with the lack of profitable selling opportunities.
“I tried selling at Kid to Kid, I had a big bag of quality kids clothes, and they only offered me about $23 for the entire bag.” Kujanpaa expressed. “I was frustrated, just one of those outfits alone cost about that much money, and this was a huge bag full of them! I knew there had to be something better.”
From Kujanpaa’s Finnish background and seeing a need for a better thrifting experience, the idea for Preloved was born. Satu and her husband Josef Kujanpaa opened Preloved Provo in November of 2021, giving Provo thrifters the opportunity to buy and sell the Finnish way.
The store features booths that can be rented by anyone and filled with clothing, jewelry, home decor, and more. The booths are switched out every Saturday, so every week shoppers can find something new.
“When we first opened, my husband had another full time job, but then it started going so well!” Satu Kujanpaa shared. “We had always dreamed of owning our own business, and it just felt like the right thing to do.”
After opening their Provo location, the Kujanpaa’s have expanded their business to include two other locations.
“We opened our Spanish Fork store in April, 2022, and our most recent store opened just last month, in Sandy!” Satu Kujanpaa said. “We have two more planned: one in Layton, and one in Houston, Texas.”
Although the opportunity of starting and running Preloved together has been an exciting one for the Kujanpaa’s, Satu shares that it has been difficult at times as well.
“Some days I don’t get to see my kids, and even though those are hard days, it’s alright because I know my husband is with them, and I think about how they’re getting to develop such a phenomenal relationship with their dad.” Kujanpaa said. “I always try to remember why we’re doing this, because I know that in the long run we’re trying to make the world a better place, which will bless our family in return.”
Keeping this perspective has been important to Kujanpaa as she’s worked through the challenges of starting a new business. She shares that through the difficult times, she feels she has been supported and guided.
“Although it’s been a challenge, I feel like God is guiding me.” Kujanpaa shared. “He keeps me going when the days are hard.”
Kujanpaa thinks Preloved offers an ideal thrifting experience for students. As well as being so close to BYU campus, it offers affordable shopping options for those on a tight budget.
“I remember when I was going to school, shopping was so difficult because school costs a lot and money is tight, but you still want to dress cute.” She said. “At Preloved, there are always so many great brands available for great prices.”
During the Fall 2022 semester, a group of seniors in BYU’s Experience Design program had the opportunity to work with Kujanpaa, analyzing and offering consultation for Preloved’s seller/buyer experience, social media, website, booth setup, dressing rooms, signs and more. Michaela Horn and Melissa Andrew, members of the Experience Design team, shared their experiences with Preloved.
“I’d heard of Preloved before, so I was so excited to jump into this project!” Andrew shared. “We helped look for ways to incorporate Satu’s Finnish background into her store, and she received our data collection and suggestions with open arms.”
“I reached out to Satu because I thought that her idea was brilliant!” Horn added. “It was an amazing experience!”
As part of the team’s analysis, the group was able to rent out a booth free of charge to get a feel for the seller experience. Andrew shared that she thought it was a great way to sell clothing and items she no longer had use for.
“I loved selling at Preloved!” Andrew shared. “I was able to sell and make money off of items that I didn’t need anymore but didn’t want to just donate to DI, I will definitely be reserving a booth again!”
Since becoming acquainted with Preloved and Kujanpaa, Preloved is now a staple part of Andrew’s shopping.
“You can get so many high-quality items for a fraction of the cost.” Andrew said. “On any given day, if you ask where I got my outfit, I most likely got a portion of it from Preloved.”
Anna Bennett, a new employee at Preloved, learned about the store after seeing customers flock to the building every weekend.
“I lived near here, and I saw that every Friday and Saturday there would be so many cars out here.” Bennett said. “I wondered what was going on so I went to check it out, and then I just kept coming back!”
Bennett thinks the shopping experience at Preloved is great, and enjoys seeing the impact the store has on its customers.
“It’s super fun to see the treasures people find here.” She shared. “People always leave the store a lot happier than they were when they came in.”
Online, Preloved’s Google Reviews are filled with customers who agree with Bennett’s assessment. Many, like Kujanpaa herself, are young mothers looking for affordable shopping solutions for their children.
Kujanpaa believes thrifting is about having an appreciation for the things we have. She shares the value she sees in appreciating things that may not be brand new, but are what she calls “imperfectly perfect.”
“It’s about bringing new life to items that still have great quality, items that have a history and tell a story.” She expressed. “Preloved is about respecting the earth, respecting what we’ve been giving, using what we have to our fullest, and connecting each other to our stories.”