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March 25, 2009- SMAC in the News

This is 'Wear It's At'

Karin Elton

Recycling, providing employment, putting extra money into people's pockets and providing another outlet for the community to buy low-cost quality clothes, that's Wear It's At.

Wear It's At, a new and gently-used infant through young adult retail clothing store, will open soon on East College Drive near Bagels 'N' Brew. It is modeled after Plato's Closet and Once Upon A Child.

"During the initial phase, we'll buy clothing only," said Dawn Wambeke, the executive director of Advance Opportunities.

The first phase will last about a month in which they will buy clothes to fill the store.

"People can make an appointment or drop off items," said Wambeke. "We will get back to them in four business days."

The store will then close for two to three weeks to set up the clothing on the racks. Then the store will open to buy and sell clothing.

Wambeke said once the store gets rolling, she hopes to give selling customers a quote within 30 minutes.

Wambeke said the organization, which is a private nonprofit agency that provides employment and vocational services to adults with developmental disabilities, has been working on the new venture for "six or seven months." Wambeke said the store is another avenue for adults with developmental disabilities to work and be a presence in the community.

"We're trying to broaden the scope of services we provide," she said.

Opening a retail store is foreign territory to the Advance staff and so they have employed the services of a retail consultant, Southwest Marketing Advisory Center, and the Small Business Development Center. Wambeke said the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center, headed by Mike Rich at Southwest Minnesota State, designed the Wear It's At logo.

Wambeke said everyone she has talked to about the new store has been excited about the concept.

"It's a very good fit for Marshall in these economic times," she said.

Wambeke said the location for the store is ideal.

"It's within walking distance from the college and is near local restaurants - it's a great location," she said.

Wambeke said there will be a separate rack for SMSU Mustang clothing as well as Marshall Tiger clothing. The young adult items will be in front of the store and the clothing for infants and children will be in the back. There will be a small area for children to play in while their parents shop, she said.

In addition to clothes, the store will also sell necklaces, shoes and purses, "but not toys," she said. "There isn't enough room."

The store, which has 1,600 square feet in space, will have two dressing rooms. A bar code scanner will be used to track the inventory. Wear It's At will have a store manager, cashier, and employees to sort the clothes and ones for customer service.

"Every day I get asked (by future employees), 'When's it going to open?'" Wambeke said.

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