Shopping on a dime

By Kasie Von Haden

Lumen Editor

With the state of the economy, col­lege students, who are bombarded with student loans and textbook and lab fees, and who can only commit to a certain amount of work-study hours, are constantly finding ways they can save money.

Eating fewer meals at restaurants (or, maybe, less food in general), not driving cars so much, and making coffee at home are some of the ways students have tried to keep more cash in their bank accounts.

But, what about when it comes to clothing? Students can only wear their apparel for a certain amount of time until holes start to form, seams start to tear, and sweat stains start to appear. And, as much as brand-name labels shouldn’t matter, stu­dents are always looking for high-quality materials that they can use for long periods of time, which of­tentimes come with big names, and even bigger prices.

“At times, many students have that ‘dress to impress’ mentality,” said Shane Reinbold, a sophomore social work major from Bismarck, N.D., “but not many have the bud­get for it.”

A popular chain of consignment stores is trying to accommodate this concern.

Plato’s Closet, a store that buys and sells gently worn name brand clothing for teens and young adults, is now open in La Crosse.

Plato’s Closet is located on High­way 16, near Office Max and Famous Daves. The store’s hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We needed something like this in the area,” said Carrie Thornsen, a recent UW-La Crosse graduate who manages the store. “Consignment shops are increasing in popularity, and college students can shop here and use their money elsewhere, too.”

Plato’s Closet buys used clothes that were originally put on shelves during the past two years. Popular brands in the store include Hollis­ter, American Eagle and Buckle. but other brands, like Forever 21 are also rising in popularity.

“Why not get a brand name at a good price?” Thornsen asked. “It’s all about recycling.”

People who sell their clothes are then given cash on the spot, or can apply it to a purchase within the store, and the clothes are then put immediately onto the sales floor.

“It’s been non-stop since we opened at the end of September,” Thornsen said. “We’re excited and happy and it’s awesome we are get­ting so much business, but we didn’t see it coming.”

Alexis Guerrero, a senior psychol­ogy major from San Pedro, Belize, was overwhelmed by Plato’s Closet, too.

“I wasn’t expecting them to have so much stuff,” Guerrero said. “I’ve never heard about the store, but when I heard how much good stuff they were supposed to have, I had to go shopping. They have reasonable prices for really nice stuff in good condition.”

“There’s something for every­body if they’re willing to look for it,” Guerrero said.

Reinbold, who likes to shop at Plato’s Closet for professional attire, hasn’t stepped foot in the La Crosse location, but has shopped at the Bis­marck location.

“It’s a really cool business,” Re­inbold said. “You get paid for your clothes instead of just donating them. I like donating, too, but this has a big appeal for teens because there’s name brands at not such an expensive price.”

“Since I am starting my field ex­perience, I need professional attire, but not huge prices,” Reinbold said.

“It’s a growing point,” Thornsen said. “It’s gently used clothing, but you save a lot of money.”

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