Voices

Students open in-school store, offer name brand clothing with low prices

West Valley junior Jacque Swanson, left, and senior Linda Juitt have helped open Inspire, a clothing store for lower-income and budget-minded students. As a part of their Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program, they’ve opened the in-school store two days a week. (J. Bart Rayniak)
West Valley junior Jacque Swanson, left, and senior Linda Juitt have helped open Inspire, a clothing store for lower-income and budget-minded students. As a part of their Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program, they’ve opened the in-school store two days a week. (J. Bart Rayniak)

Many girls in high school like to shop. They feel part of the group when they have name brand jeans and clothing the other girls wear.

But in tough economic times, many families might not be able to afford Miss Me Jeans which run about $100 each.

“I know how people feel,” said Linda Juitt, a senior at West Valley High School.

Juitt and two of her friends in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, junior Jacque Swanson and senior Jessica Hilliard have started a store in the school. Inspire is for students who want to wear the name brand clothing but can’t afford the prices.

Inspire is a small store set up in the former office of FCCLA adviser and teacher Lesley Parker in room 1119. The three students have crammed as much clothing into the room as they can – racks of jeans and blouses stand in the room, shoes line a shelf next to the window and carefully pieced together outfits for every fashion taste hang from the walls. “Classy!” “Charming!” “Bold!” “Casual!” “Flirty!” and “Retro!” labels suggest to shoppers outfits they can get for a bargain.

They received the clothes from Plato’s Closet as a donation and sell them for as cheap as they can.

Juitt said she spent much of her childhood in foster care. She often didn’t get to go to the mall and shop like many other girls since money was so tight. Now that she’s in a stable environment at home, she’s hoping to give other girls the chance to shop for nice clothes.

“This is more than an FCCLA project for me,” Juitt said.

Juitt has worked in clothing stores in the past and has put what she learned into this project. She’s working to get the word out, even asking the school janitor to turn on the microphone at lunch to announce the opening of the store.

“Then we had a flood of girls come in here,” Juitt said.

Swanson decorated the store – she climbed ladders to hang posters on the walls and sheer fabric from the ceiling. Hilliard has been traveling to both Plato’s Closet locations to pick up trunk loads of clothing the store would ordinarily donate to Goodwill.

Juitt said nothing in the store is more than $6 or $7.

“That’s the point,” Juitt said. “We want people to be able to afford it.”

Since the store’s opening on Nov. 17, the girls have seen several customers. They have clothing for young men, as well as women and one of the boys who came in told his mother about it and she came in to shop.

“It’s not really just for teenagers,” Swanson said.

The girls have collected enough clothing to swap out items for summer when the weather gets better. They also have a selection of formal dresses for school dances.

“All girls want to go to dances,” Juitt said.

They are also hoping to set up a room full of the clothing they can’t use for students who can’t afford to shop in Inspire. Those students can get vouchers for free clothing. Juitt and Swanson said half the proceeds will go to the FCCLA program, the other half will go to a charity, most likely Teen Closet, a clothing bank for kids in foster care which Juitt used herself at one time.

They also have plans to expand the store for people in the community, not just students. But for now, they are finding the best clothes to put out for their West Valley shoppers.

“We don’t put stuff out that we wouldn’t wear ourselves,” Juitt said.



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