Thousands of franchise brands use their 10th anniversary to brag about the millions of dollars they’ve made selling goods and services in their communities. Women’s upscale resale clothing franchise Clothes Mentor can look back at their first decade and celebrate the millions of dollars they’ve paid to the people in their communities.
$180 million, to be exact.
This February, Clothes Mentor and their parent company, NTY Franchise Company, celebrate 10 years of not only offering gently-used name-brand and designer clothing, shoes and accessories for up to 70 percent off of original retail prices, but paying cash on the spot to the women who bring in their gently-used clothing, shoes and accessories. From their first franchise in Canton, Ohio, launched in 2007 to more than 150 stores nationwide today, Clothes Mentor locations can be found in 29 states and 132 cities throughout the United States.
“This has been an amazing 10 years. I am thrilled to be where we are after 10 years of growth. We would not have been able to accomplish what we have without the hard work and dedication from our franchisees and Clothes Mentor corporate staff in Minneapolis,” said Chad Olson, COO of NTY Franchise Company.
Resale pioneer abandons retirement to launch resale revolution
As a child, Ron Olson worked in the theatre his parents owned and watched the many movies that showed how the rich and famous lived. He thought maybe some day he could be rich like that. In 2000, at the age of 58, he reached that goal when he retired a multimillionaire after building GrowBiz, his empire of resale stores that included Play It Again Sports and Plato’s Closet. In retirement, Ron golfed. He dabbled in real estate. He travelled. He went crazy. He decided that retirement wasn’t for him.
“I was bored. I love work and it drives me,” he said. “I had to get back in the game.”
By 2006, The Godfather of Resale was at it again. On a visit to Columbus, Ohio, Ron’s friends Lynn and Dennis Blum, the founders of Plato’s Closet and Once Upon a Child, introduced him to their new women’s upscale resale store, Clothes Mentor. Olson saw potential. He jumped out of retirement and started NTY Franchise Company, purchasing the three Clothes Mentor locations and hiring his son, Chad, who helped him grow the brand.
“There are still plenty of open markets for Clothes Mentor across America. More and more Americans today want an alternative to thrift in their market, and Clothes Mentor provides them that with its brightly lit, clean and organized shopping environment,” Chad Olson said.
By March of 2014, Clothes Mentor had grown to more than 100 stores. The concept was a hit with franchise owners who loved being their own boss as well as cash-strapped consumers still suffering financially from the great recession of 2008 but wanting to enjoy the designer retail brands at Clothes Mentor’s resale prices.
Today, resale is a $12 billion industry with Clothes Mentor leading the charge in upscale women’s clothing. Over the last decade, they’ve sold more than 28 million units of clothing, recycled 42 million units, and created almost 6,000 local employment opportunities.
Making dreams come true
For Clothes Mentor franchisees, the business has provided more than just an income. It’s been a life-changing event. Franchisees like Mike and Melanie Harris of Edmond, Oklahoma, were able to return to their home and be with their families thanks to the opportunity provided by Clothes Mentor.
“We are thankful to have found the opportunity to own a Clothes Mentor franchise. Because of this, we moved back to our home state of Oklahoma to be near family, which encouraged more family to move here as well. We doubt this would have happened in the three years we’ve been here, without this major life change,” they said.
For others, purchasing Clothes Mentor franchises wasn’t just about being close to family, it meant working in the family business. Sisters Sadie Cherney and Alyssa Cox each own multiple Clothes Mentor locations in North and South Carolina. Their parents had owned resale stores since Sadie and Alyssa were teenagers, giving them a firsthand experience into the wonderful world of resale.
“Having the Clothes Mentor franchises has been a wonderful experience for our family to grow together in the resale industry. Opening a business is always a risk, but we felt strongly from the beginning with our parent’s past experience in resale franchises that it was a profitable opportunity. We look forward to opening more in the near future,” Alyssa said.
“Growing up with family resale franchises provided a framework for my sister and I to appreciate recycling and value-driven shopping,” she said. “We’ve been able to build a work culture that takes great pride in our small businesses, as well as a mission to be involved in and supportive of the communities where we are located.”
Kathy and Lane Bosley own Clothes Mentor in Tyler, Texas, and are hoping their daughters can learn similar lessons by seeing their mom and dad win with their franchise store.
“We are thankful to show our children (ages 9–16) how to own a business. We’re thankful they’ll see how much hard work is required, how important good character is and what a blessing it is to work together as a family!” she said.
More to come over the next 10 years
Clothes Mentor recently launched a free personal shopper program where customers submit their sizes, style preferences and budget either by phone or online, then one of the store’s fashion experts selects outfits for the customer to try on upon arrival. The personal shopper program is currently active in 105 stores and will continue to expand in 2017.
NTY Franchise Company plans to launch 25 Clothes Mentor stores in 2017 and hopes to open around 25–30 per year over the next decade, making Olson and his team very optimistic for the future.
“The next 10 years are going to be awesome. We will be approaching 500 stores, and our franchise base and the customers we serve will have grown dramatically. The jobs our franchisees have created will have helped thousands and thousands of Americans. Only in franchising can you get this kind of trifecta.”
For more information, visit www.clothesmentor.com.