Plato’s Closet opens in Lakeview Center

Photo by Jeff Baughan Elizabeth Mireles is the manager at the Parkersburg location of Plato’s Closet. The store is the third to open in West Virginia. Mireles said a fourth is scheduled to open in Charleston.

PARKERSBURG –Opening day is always chaotic for a store.

Opening day for Plato’s Closet was that and more, according to store manager Elizabeth Mireles.

“It was a relief to finally be able to sell merchandise after just buying for a month,” she said.

The rush to buy, however, was more than Mireles or anyone else expected.

“It would appear we underestimated somewhat what our total sales would be on opening day,” she said.

Photo by Jeff Baughan Plato’s Closet is in the Lakeview Center and in the former Christian Family Bookstore.

“We sold about 25 percent of our total merchandise the first day. Half of the designer purses were gone within the first hour. We’re checking to see if this was a record day for Plato’s Closet and there are more than 500 across the United States and Canada.”

Checkout lines that day stretched from one end of the store to the other, depending on what direction people were headed. Small purchases were considered six items or less.

A cash register was available for large purchases of 20 or more items. There was a nonstop motion of cashiers waving arms in the air and shouting “I can help someone here.”

Shopping carts don’t exist at Plato’s Closet. Black plastic totes behind the checkout counter are available when a customer can’t carry more than the armload they have.

Post it notes with a name display the ownership.

Photo by Jeff Baughan Assistant Manager Kayla Allen hangs women’s clothing in one of the many aisles at the gently used merchandise store.

“It was maddening but fun,” she said. “We had 30 employees in here for the opening at one time or another.”

The store geared the young teenager and adult in Parkersburg is the third in West Virginia, according to Mireles, who was the assistant manager in Morgantown for two years while a full-time student at West Virginia University. She graduated in December with a degree in environmental protection and a minor in geology.

“So it’s a different field than the major,” she said with a smile and a laugh.

Charleston is the next location for the company to open a store as soon as a suitable storefront is secured, Mireles said.

“Parkersburg was a good choice,” Mireles said. “It’s a good central location between Columbus, Morgantown and Huntington. All are about two hours away.”

Photo by Jeff Baughan Hailey Bibbee carries a tub of purchased merchandise to a shelf behind the sales counter.

Plato’s Closet joins Play It Again Sports in the Lakeview Center and Once Upon a Child in Parkersburg. Mireles said the three “are under the same corporate umbrella although each are different franchisees.”

Plato’s Closet staff is buying items and styles “which have been in stores in the last 18 months,” Mireles said. “We don’t accept items with tears, stains or holes unless they were put there by the manufacturer.”

Plato’s also will take off-brands “but the name brands sell the best,” she said.

The items will be “at a markdown of 50-70 percent,” according to Mireles. “Then there is a rewards program where a customer gets a 20 percent discount on top of the other discounts after they achieve 250 points on the rewards program.”

The starting sizes for clothes accepted at Plato’s are 24 for girls and 28 for boys and go to size 0-22 for girls and waist 28-40 for guys. Shirts start at XS through 3X. The store besides clothes, stocks boots and accessories such as hats, jewelry and scents.

What they do not take are maternity clothes, infant, toddler or children’s sizes. Nor do they take mature brands such as Anne Taylor, jcrew and Talbott’s, among others.

“We want to keep the store as trendy as possible,” Mireles said. “So we can’t take everything. We are always buying, usually the current season and one ahead. The store also accepts West Virginia clothing vouchers.”

The brands Plato’s are on the lookout for include Abercrombie and Fitch, Buckle brands, Hollister, American Eagle, Forever 21, Affliction, Nike, Northface, Jordan, Converse, Adidas, Sinful, Miss Me, Under Armour, Ugg, Coach, Rock Revival, among others.