Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

West Chester University is still held near and dear to the hearts of Lauren Merkel and Kyle Rheiner.  Merkel, the owner of town boutique Artifact, and Rheiner, the owner of Breakaway Ink wanted to do something to give back to WCU students.  

Artifact Boutique, located at 200 W. Gay St., opened in June 2009 by Merkel.  Merkel is a WCU alum who graduated in 2006 with a degree in communication studies.  

She wanted to open a store in hopes of being able to provide trendy, affordable clothing to all of the local students and young professionals in the area.

Everything in the store is under $60, and with new shipments coming in weekly, Artifact always has affordable, trendy clothing including dresses, tunics, and tops to skirts, leggings, and jeggings.  

Since the initial opening in 2009, Artifact has flourished and expanded to cater to the needs and interests of women all over the country.  

BreakawayINK began in 2004, before Rheiner even graduated from West Chester University.  The idea sparked when he was on a road trip to Canada for a music festival.  

Returning back to West Chester, he began by making 400 T-shirts just in time for the 2004 Homecoming.  All 400 shirts sold in less than 48 hours, marking Rheiner across campus as “The T-Shirt Guy.”

He continued making T-shirts, some for sororities, and more for future Homecomings.  People he didn’t even know were wearing his shirts across campus.  

Upon graduating in 2006, he lost contact with the University from working full-time.  After learning the do’s and don’ts of business, he continued to build on that and launched his first line in April 2010.

Many of Rheiner’s designs are inspired by his taste in music. Almost three years later, BreakawayINK’s line is sold in eight different stores across the country and three different stores online.  

Merkel and Rheiner became good friends through a restaurant festival in the summer of 2011, and have been working together ever since.  They collaborated and came up with a line of clothing for Artifact, created hoodies and T-shirts, and brainstormed many different ideas.  These ideas were later designed and created by Rheiner.   

“West Chester is near and dear to my heart; what better way to throw a party on WCU’s Homecoming?” Rheiner said.  The WCU Homecoming Block Party will take place at Artifact, which is located at 200 W. Gay St.  The party will go from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 20, and everyone is welcome. All products will be on discount as a thank you to everyone who has supported Artifact and BreakawayINK.

The front half of Artifact’s store will feature BreakawayINK, which does not currently hold their own location in West Chester.  On top of existing products, BreakawayINK will be featuring skateboard decks, and the fall/winter line which has not been on display yet; even on their website.  This includes the release of four new T-shirts, two long sleeve T-shirts, one raglan shirt (a baseball type shirt), and two hooded sweatshirts.  

The block party will be a place for students and residents to hang out, socialize, and eat some great food.  Artifact and Breakaway Ink will have a live DJ, new products, exclusive discounts, and numerous prizes.  

The discount on items will average around 40 percent, but varying between certain items. There will be a guest sign in book that students will be encouraged to sign in recognition of their support.  The first 20 purchases will receive a free drawstring bag with their order.  

Students are encouraged to attend this event in support of West Chester University’s Homecoming as Artifact and BreakawayINK give back to the community.  

There is no better way to support local businesses and WCU than attending this block party!  Those who cannot attend are welcome to visit Artifact’s and BreakawayINK’s websites at and to check out everything they have to offer, however, sales are only on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Artifact’s location on Gay Street.

Samantha Schaule is a fourth-year student majoring in Communication Studies.  She can be reached at

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