The parent company that launched Play It Again Sports and Once Upon a Child is again premiering a new-to-Arizona resale shop in the East Valley.
Plato’s Closet, which has 120 locations nationwide, buys and sells used, brand-name clothes for teenagers and young adults.
The first Arizona version started selling Polo shirts and Hollister skirts Thursday at 1964 N. Alma School Road in Chandler. It is the first of seven Plato’s Closet stores planned for the Valley, said Richard Brill, spokesman for Minneapolis-based Winmark Corp., the chain’s parent. The company will wait to see how the first store does before planning the half-dozen additional sites, he said.
If the line of anxious shoppers wrapped around the building when the Chandler store opened is any indicator, the company will be scouting sites soon.
“It’s been crazy, ” said store owner Jay Slawson. “We had hundreds waiting for us to open.”
Winmark is a franchisor that owns four chains with about 850 stores nationwide. Play It Again Sports, which sells sporting goods, has 17 Arizona locations, including shops in Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale. Once Upon a Child, which sells used clothing and furniture for infants and young children, has two stores in the state. Both are in the south East Valley — in Chandler and Gilbert. Music Go Round hasn’t hit the Arizona scene yet. The company has been anxious to bring Plato’s Closet to the fast growing Valley market, Brill said.
“It’s a new niche for teens and college students,” he said. “They can get the best brand names here, gently used, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Bebe, Roxy, American Eagle, Enyce, Gap, Banana Republic, Lucky and many more. And the average price is only $10.”
Franchisees Jay and Matt Slawson, both veterans of Play it Again Sports stores, expect the opening day crowds to swell for some time with back-to-school shoppers. The store had been buying inventory from local kids for about two months, Jay Slawson said, and many of them scoped out the stock while selling their own duds. “We have about 10 people who want the same item,” he said.
The store is packed with trendy duds. A $50 pair of Express jeans is on the rack for $18. A pair of $78 Lucky jeans has a $20 price tag.
There are shoes — plenty of pairs of Dr. Martens and Steve Maddens. And there are accessories from the wearable kind, such as belts and sunglasses, to dorm room decorations like Lava lamps and candles. There are also used CDs and DVDs.
About 98 percent of the inventory is used, Jay Slawson said. The few new items include cheap but trendy stuff such as seat belt-style belts or manufacturers’ closeouts.
Nearly everything sells for an average 70 percent off the regular tab for the item when new, he said.
The brothers hope to eventually own three Plato’s Closet stores.
They picked the south East Valley space in the same shopping center as sister brand Once Upon a Child for their first location because of the surrounding population, said Matt Slawson.
“We took a map and put stars by all the schools with their (enrollment) numbers,” Matt Slawson said. “This had the best demographics for colleges, high schools and middle schools, and it’s about halfway between Fiesta Mall (in Mesa) and Chandler Fashion Center.”