Chain taps demand for used designer wear

Plato’s Closet opens in Valley Wal-Mart center

A new second-hand clothing store is drawing notice in Spokane Valley and helping with the school of thought to recycle and reuse.

Plato’s Closet, part of a nationwide franchise that buys and resells gently used trendy brand-name clothing, shoes and accessories, opened in the Wal-Mart Shopping Center in Spokane Valley last month after buying enough merchandise from local residents to fill the 3,700 square-foot store.

“We just kept having requests to be out here,” said franchise owner Valerie Rhoads, who opened her first Plato’s Closet in North Spokane in 2007. “We had success right off the bat with the first store.”

Plato’s Closet caters to young women and men ages 12 to 24, specializing in reselling items that first sold new within the previous 18 months from such stores as Gap, American Eagle, Hollister, Nordstrom and Old Navy. Rhoads pays cash – about 30 to 40 percent of what she thinks resale will be – for items she and her crew members choose to resell.

“A lot of people don’t have any idea it’s a used clothing store until they come up to pay and we ask if they have ever sold to us before (and explain the concept for our store inventory),” said Rhoads, who employs 15 people at the Valley store.

“Our stuff is in tremendous shape. And nothing is priced over $65, even if it comes in with a $200 tag still attached,” she added.

Customer demand and attractive leasing options helped prompt Rhoads to open the Valley store quicker than she otherwise might have, she said. Plus, the current economy is helping with the success of such second-hand buying, along with greater teen acceptance to shop for deals and an overall recognition that recycled clothing is good for the environment and can be lucrative after cleaning out closets.

Rhoads, who helped in her father’s Coeur d’Alene hardware store for several years, says she buys items for any season and is especially seeking more fall and winter clothing right now. She does not sell formal wear.

Customers will find rows of clothing racks across the floor and along the walls of the colorful and brightly lit store and dozens of complete outfits and accessories displayed.

Each Plato’s Closet is individually owned and operated, first franchising in 1999. It’s part of the Winmark Corp. that also owns franchised brands Play It Again Sports, Once Upon A Child and Music Go Round.

Are you opening a new business in the Spokane Valley? Is your business expanding, moving or remodeling? Are you wondering about that new store that has opened in your neighborhood? Send an e-mail to Juli Bergstrom-Wasson at juliwasson@gmail.com or contact us by fax at (509) 927-2175 or by writing to Business Notebook, Valley Voice, 13208 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley, WA 99216.

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