Plato’s Closet is a trendy store that sells and buys lightly used clothing and accessories. Originally based in the US, Plato’s Closet’s popularity in the city has been increasing over the past few years. I visited the store to talk to Kevin Wright about why he opened Plato’s Closet in Hamilton and his future plans.
Why did you decide to open Plato’s Closet?
Plato’s Closet is a franchise out of Minnesota that opened 15-20 years ago. The owners got the idea from their son. He was going to university, studying philosophy, and his parents were getting into a small business. He decided when he was learning about Plato – you know Plato had this idea about reusing and recycling things – that it would be a good business idea to take what he knew of his parents’ business and what he was learning in school to make this thing called Plato’s Closet.
The first Plato’s Closet in Canada was opened in Burlington almost six years ago. This location is the second one which opened three years ago. Plato’s Closet is part of a big franchise called Winmark. Winmark also owns Play it Again Sports, Once Upon a Child, and Music Go Round for instruments in the States, and the older generation brand called Style Encore. As you grow out of Once Upon a Child, you grow into Plato’s Closet and then you grow into Style Encore. Once Upon a Child has been around for 22 years.
Who does the store cater to?
Everyone. It really caters to all shapes, sorts, and sizes. Once Upon a Child has been around long enough that the kids who grew up with their parents shopping there are now growing into Plato’s Closet, so they’ve just kind of known the business. They knew Once Upon a Child and now they’re old enough to buy their own clothes. Everyday we’re seeing people who have never shopped in the store before, everyone from teenagers to grandmas, moms, daughters, sons, fathers. If you shop, if you buy clothes, then you’re our target market so that’s one of the really good things about it- it’s for everyone.
How big of a role does the store plays in the city?
It has become a bigger part of the city in the last few years as people start to recognize it. It really helps, especially in lower income families that don’t have the money to go shop at the expensive stores in the malls, that the pricing is about a third of what they would pay at the mall. You’re getting a lot of the same stuff – same clothing, same condition – because we do a really good job of sorting out all the stuff that has any marks, rips, stains, that type of thing.
How would you describe the atmosphere of the customers and the workers in the store?
We want our customer service to be awesome. We want people to come in and say, “This is a fun place to shop, I can get whatever I want here.” It shows when everyone is happy and interacting well with the customers so we really strive for that – to try and make a fun atmosphere to shop in. For that reason, we have events like our snow coat event and Halloween costume event because people like to come out to things. We’ll set up a tent in the parking lot, put music on and make it fun for the customers. We try to create that fun shopping atmosphere as much as we can.
As different trends come and go, Plato’s Closet is a more affordable way to keep up with them. Visit the store at 505 Rymal Road East in Hamilton or at locations in Burlington, Oakville and coming soon in Milton.