Style for less: Trendy used clothing store opens in Maryville
By Melanie Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After years in the retail clothing business, one of Blount County’s newest entrepreneurs has opened a business already causing a buzz about town.
Alex Tucker and business partner Buck Bailey now own and operate Zippers Style Exchange, a trendy used clothing store on West Broadway in Maryville. Tucker has years of experience working with Goody’s, Proffitt’s and Lee Jeans. He stepped away recently and left Blount County to work a short time in Chicago; he missed his family and the mountains of East Tennessee and came back home, deciding to take a different direction. Tucker, who is a 1987 graduate of Heritage High School and the University of Tennessee (bachelor’s degree in marketing), said he wanted to offer Blount County a shop where customers can take their name brand clothing to sell or shop for their own wardrobe at pennies on the dollar.
Zippers’ grand opening was held Feb. 19 and if attendance is any indication of what lies ahead, Tucker is optimistic. A large crowd turned out to see just what Zippers is all about. Some made purchases while others turned in items they no longer wanted for something they did. Customers can bring in the clothes they want to sell and receive either cash or store credit.
A man with a plan
The key to success is keeping prices low and offering today’s latest fashion trends, Tucker said. He has a list of name brands that he buys from customers to re-sell. They include Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Bebe, Billabong, Charlotte Russe, Express, Forever 21, Gap, Guess, Hollister, Izod. J Crew, Jessica Simpson and plenty of others. Tucker admitted he has been surprised at the clientele that is finding his store and refreshing their wardrobes.
“When we first started talking about this, we were thinking downtown,” this new business owner said. “We were looking at being close to the college and had an idea of what our customer was going to be downtown. But we didn’t find the right place and started looking more in the suburbs.”
Now instead of the college-age crowd, Tucker said he is seeing more women and men in the 35-55 age category. Some are young mothers and some are men who like golf. So Tucker has decided he won’t keep a closed mind when it comes to what he will buy and sell. If it’s in demand, he wants it on the racks.
Give them what they want
It’s all about being flexible in what you buy and sell and not painting yourself into a corner, Tucker said.
Which also means Tucker has to keep a close eye on fashion trends predicted for spring and beyond. His years in retail will serve him well.
Zippers Style Exchange is modeled a lot like Planet Xchange in Knoxville. Zippers, however, isn’t a spin-off or franchise business. Tucker and Bailey have created it uniquely on their own for this community.
The business partners even designed their own logo and have a website to attract new customers: http://www.zippers411.com . They can also be found on Facebook.
The store will have a different inventory each time a customer comes in because their will be those coming in to sell things on a daily basis. Sizes on the racks range from extra small to 2x in both men’s and women’s.
The store features 1,200 square feet and includes dressing rooms. To give this new store more of a community feel, Zippers is also promoting local artisans by displaying their original works. The first featured artist is Zeke Tucker, Alex’s nephew, who is a student at Lee University, majoring in photography.
Plans also call for Zippers to have a small, self-serve coffee bar once things get rolling.
It is a bit scary to step out from a comfortable career and launch a business on your own, Tucker said. But he is confident there are people in Blount County who seek out bargains and who believe recycling is the way to go.
“It is all about recycling,” Tucker said. “We won’t have bags except for reusable ones. We are trying to keep it green.”