Many resale clothing franchise operations are small businesses, deeply dependent on a loyal customer base. Most of those shoppers come from the local community, and smart franchise owners know their customers by name. They collect and keep data about their sizes, style preferences and favorite brand names. They send email reminders about special events. They remember birthdays. They understand the value of having a connection that goes beyond the cash register.
The most successful franchisees also have mastered the magical math of giving back. They add value to their cities and towns by making their part of the world a better place. Here are some examples of Clothes Mentor owners who truly make a difference in their communities.
Alyssa Cox and Her Smiling Greeter
Alyssa Cox owns three Clothes Mentor franchises in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s always been involved in the community, and her family has volunteered for years with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte. Last December, Alyssa decided to hire a 20-year-old woman with Down Syndrome to be a store greeter at her Clothes Mentor in South Charlotte. In her wildest dreams, she couldn’t have imagined what a fantastic idea that would turn out to be!
“Julia greets everyone when they come in,” Alyssa raves. “She already has gotten more (work) hours, she’s gotten a raise, and our sales are higher when she’s there.” Alyssa says Julia has become an important part of the customer service team, handing out flyers and helping customers find items within the store. “She likes to shop, too, and enjoys the employee discounts!”
Julia has become more independent and self-sufficient as a result of her employment at Clothes Mentor. Her parents are thrilled — and have noticed a growing maturity in their daughter. “She even takes public transportation on her way to work,” Alyssa adds.
Alyssa says if the opportunity presents itself, she will hire another person with Down Syndrome. “The sky’s the limit for this kind of thing,” she says.
Chris Barnett and the Resale Cycle
At the Clothes Mentors in Westchester and Springfield, Pennsylvania, franchisee Chris Barnett knows what it’s like to be a bargain shopper. “I grew up going to garage sales,” she admits. She gave up a high-powered career at a major pharmaceutical company in order to facilitate women helping each other via the resale clothing cycle. She is personally vested in making her customers feel and look as good as they can. “Our mission is to show women how beautiful they are by finding clothes that fit them the best.”
But Chris does so much more in her community than simply boosting her customers’ self-esteem. “We host fundraisers. We have retail therapy parties,” she explains. In her stores, there are several places for customers to donate clothing that is not purchased for resale. Those donated items are taken to local churches, where they are in turn distributed to women living in homeless shelters. Customers can purge their closets of gently-used clothing, and women who can’t afford new fashions get the opportunity to look and feel great about themselves. Everyone wins.
Sadie Cherney Broadcasts for Bargain Hunters
In South Carolina, Sadie Cherney owns three Clothes Mentor upscale resale stores — in Greenville, Columbia and Spartanburg. Like many Clothes Mentor franchisees, Sadie offers a complimentary personal shopping service at all of her stores. Busy customers sign up on the store’s website, and submit sizes and style preferences. The personal shopper pulls dozens of items in the appropriate sizes and colors and has them ready for the customer when she arrives. The entire process is free of charge, and there is never an obligation for a customer to make a purchase.
But Sadie goes beyond the bricks and mortar of her store to help local women become more fashion-savvy. She hosts a monthly fashion segment on WSPA-TV’s “Your Carolina” morning program. “I get to style six mannequins,” she beams. “I love it!” Because of the wealth of consumer data she receives from the NTY Franchise parent company, Sadie gives free fashion tips to women who want to stay on top of the latest trends while keeping within their budget.
Tim Kapphahn Maximizes the Mentoring
The Clothes Mentor franchise in St. Cloud, Minnesota, truly lives up to its name. Owner Tim Kapphahn and his partner LaVonne Rykhus have committed to their mission of promoting and addressing women’s issues. They also help facilitate the mentorship of women by women. Employees at the store started the World of Women (WOW) program to help empower customers and other women in the local area. They host monthly meetings in the store with various topics such as, “How to Write a Good Resume.” Customers regularly attend — and often bring neighbors, friends or family members. The employees take ownership of the programs, and women in the local community receive mentorship, advice, and career and skills development. But that’s not all. Managers are constantly thinking of ways to connect with women in the St. Cloud community.
“We put on a fashion show for women dealing with issues in a domestic shelter,” Tim offers. It’s held at a site chosen by the shelter, away from the store. The attendees get a chance to learn about appropriate fashion for interviewing and landing a job. “It’s geared toward women who might be entering, or re-entering, the workplace after spending time in the shelter.” Tim says these presentations have a “dress to impress” focus, and the women leave with a feeling of empowerment and hope. The Clothes Mentor team in St. Cloud is busy thinking up more ways to stay involved with, and connected to, the people who help support their business.
Whether they reach out within the four walls of their store or branch out into the city or town they call home, these franchisees are creating strong connections with customers, and potential customers. They are providing volunteers for local events. They are raising money for worthy causes. They are offering employment and career advancement to persons who otherwise may not have the opportunity to land a job. Most of all, they are working to ensure that their upscale resale clothing store becomes part of the fabric of their community for years to come.