Originally created 07/27/06

Brand new to you



Abercrombie & Fitch shirts, Gap jeans and other staples of adolescent attire hang on racks, mirroring a teen's walk-in closet.

But it's Plato's Closet - a new upscale resale shop aimed at young adults in Walton's Corner shopping center.

This is the first Augusta store for the 170-store chain, a franchise of Minneapolis-based Winmark Corp. Winmark specializes in resale stores and also operates sporting goods retailer Play it Again Sports and Once Upon a Child, which sells children's clothes.

Teen-targeted shops are only about 10 years old in the resale market, said Adelle Meyer, the executive director of the Michigan-based National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops.

It emerged as a resale niche when savvy retailers recognized the spending power of young adults, she said.

"There's a lot of expendable income from teens," Ms. Meyer said, whether the funds come from their first jobs or from mom and dad.

Walt Rowan, the owner of the Augusta franchise at Walton Way Extension and Wheeler Road, said that while many teens can afford the top-dollar brands, the resale shop provides an opportunity to buy it at a fraction of the cost, he added.

Prices at Plato's Closet average about $10 per item. Some items in the store have never even been worn and still have tags.

A faux fur jacket from The Limited, for example, has an original price tag of $198. It's marked down to $50 at Plato's Closet.

The store won't begin selling until Tuesday, but it began taking in used clothes in recent weeks.

"When I opened a month ago the store was barren," Mr. Rowan said.

The 2,400-square-foot store is full of Augustans' gently used brands such as Abercrombie, Banana Republic and Guess.

Josie Angelisanti recently brought in two bags of clothes full of skirts, shirts and pants.

"I've shopped at the Plato's in Columbus, Georgia," the 37-year-old said. "They have good prices and are very picky what they choose."

Though the store might be marketed to teens, it isn't uncommon for fashion-savvy adults well into their 30s or 40s to shop at Plato's Closet, Mr. Rowan said.

Ms. Angelisanti said she intends to shop at Plato's with her 15-year-old daughter, with whom she occasionally swaps clothes.

Mr. Rowan himself isn't exactly hip to the latest trends, but he has hired 15 young employees that help keep him in stock of the latest trends, he said.

"I'm 43, so obviously the brands aren't the brands I grew up with," Mr. Rowan said.

That doesn't stop him from trying to learn.

"I've switched from reading my golf magazines to Lucky and Teen Vogue," the Aiken resident said with a laugh.

The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Ms. Meyer said the new store is not likely to affect traditional resale shops such as those operated by The Salvation Army and Goodwill. These stores offer some of the same merchandise, but Plato's Closet focuses on what's hot today.

Teens will still shop at the general resale shops to find vintage clothes.

"They may have to do a little more looking, but that's part of this whole resale business - the thrill of the hunt," she said.

Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.

HOW TO SELL


Plato's Closet will pay for your gently used brand-name clothing items that are in style. Here's how to sell it:


- Bring in clothing (jeans, shirts, capris, tanks, etc.) and accessories (jewelry, purses, belts, lava lamps). No prom dresses.


- Plato's Closet accepts girl sizes 0 to 16 and men's pants with a waist between 28 and 40 inches. Men's shirt sizes range from small to XXL.


- Clothes must be freshly laundered and folded in boxes or shopping bags.


- A Plato's Closet employee will check the clothes and separate what is unwanted and make an offer. Payments vary based on brand, style and demand.


- Offers less than $30 are paid for in cash and a check is written for larger amounts.


- Items will be accepted up to one hour before closing.

Source: Plato's Closet


IN STYLE BRANDS


Plato's Closet buys and sells brands that include:


- Abercrombie & Fitch


- Aeropostale


- American Eagle


- Banana Republic


- bebe


- Charlotte Russe


- Diesel


- DKNY


- Ecko Unlimited


- Express


- Forever 21


- Gap


- Guess


- Hollister


- J. Crew


- The Limited


- Lucky Brand


- Old Navy


- Polo


- Rampage


- Roxy


- Silver


- Steve Madden

Source: Plato's Closet