DIXON – Lori Huls and her 16-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Watkins, were on the hunt for a homecoming dress.
They could not really afford to buy something stylish off the rack at the mall, but they did not want to settle for a dress from a secondhand store.
Huls and Watkins hit paydirt when they stopped into Wear It’s At, 221 S. Peoria Ave., a new upscale clothing resale store. They not only found a homecoming dress, but also shoes and accessories, as well as school clothes – all for the price they would have paid for just the dress at a department store. And they had a fabulous time.
“It’s a great shop,” Huls said. “It has everything you could ever want. The selection is phenomenal; everything is name brand.”
Wear It’s At opened in May.
The store is the third such resale shop in the former office building, but is the first to offer new and gently used name-brand clothing, shoes and accessories in juniors, misses and women’s sizes, as well as men’s sizes, said Karen Hansen. She owns the shop, along with her daughter and her daughter’s fiancÚ, having taken over ownership after 3 years of volunteering at the previous stores.
“I love talking to the people who come in,” she said. “I love to be involved in their excitement. I love to help them find those treasures.”
Hansen, who moved to the Dixon area a few years ago and brought with her decades of retail experience, expanded the selection to include a wider range of sizes in everything from active wear to casual clothing to formalwear, as well as shoes, belts, purses, jewelry and other items. She also lowered prices.
“I just feel that people in this area, in this economy, can’t afford to pay $60, $70 or even $80 for a pair of jeans, but they probably can afford to pay $20 or less for a pair of jeans – for a pair of name-brand jeans, like Lucky jeans, which normally go for close to $80 but here go for less than $20,” she said.
Wear It’s At is small – it shares the building with an antique store – and packed. Racks are filled with shirts, pants and dresses. Shelves are filled with shoes and accessories. Drawers are stuffed with jeans. The walls are filled with outfits. And a closet and fitting room are stuffed with items to be tagged and displayed.
The store offers good quality – oftentimes new with tags – name-brand clothing at deep discounts. It carries brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Coach, Gap, Hollister Co., Lucky and Silver.
Hansen once offered a buy-one-get-one-half-off deal to help clear out some of the stock she inherited from the previous stores, but she continues to offer the bargain to attract customers and keep them coming back. She also has a “clearance” rack filled with items for $3 or $5.
“It’s one of the best places on the market,” Huls said. “Karen doesn’t look at [her merchandise] as hand-me-downs; she looks at them like the clothes at any other store.”
Wear It’s At does not sell items on consignment because the store does not have room.
Customers who wish to “sell” new or gently used name-brand items will receive $1 in cash or $2 in store credit in exchange for each one, depending on the item; customers who bring in formalwear or designer handbags, for example, will receive more.
Hansen and her daughter, Danielle Hansen, shop for merchandise about once a week, usually on Sundays, at resale stores, consignment shops, thrift stores, discount department stores and malls in Aurora or Chicago. They also keep their eyes out for special requests, such as a specific size and brand of jeans, from customers.
Wear It’s At is sort of hidden. Hansen has several handwritten signs on neon poster paper outside the store, but she laments their inability to distinguish the upscale resale shop from the antique store in the same building or a rummage sale in the neighborhood.
No one really knows we’re here,” she said. “We’re not on the main drag. We’re along a street that’s mostly residences and churches. We don’t have a storefront or a sign.”
Hansen hopes to get a more permanent sign soon. She also hopes, eventually, to pass on most of the duties of running the shop to her daughter, who is working on a college degree. But, more than anything, she wants to help people look and feel great for less money.
“I think there’s a place for this kind of store here,” she said. “I don’t think people should have to drive all the way to Rockford and have to pay a lot of money to get these kinds of clothes. I hope the word of mouth spreads here, because we have a lot of really nice stuff at really low prices.”
Wear It’s At, 221 S. Peoria Ave., is open from 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday. Go to facebook.com/wearitsat123 or call 630-347-7956 for more information.