GLOVERSVILLE – Lexington’s first retail store, Encore Kids, will sell more than children’s clothing and accessories when it opens next month.
On the figurative shelves at the new consignment shop, organizers hope the community will find a unique and fulfilling shopping experience, and the people supported by Fulton County’s Chapter of the state ARC will get a chance to learn a new set of skills.
“I want, when people come into this store, for everybody to leave with a good feeling. You’re helping your community and seeing people who might not get the opportunity to work in retail getting that chance,” said store manager Ann Nicolella. “They’re going to get great clothes, have great choices and have a great shopping experience.”
Encore Kids will be located at 34 N. Main St. in one of the Schine Building’s storefronts, specifically a recently renovated former handbag shop.
As part of the supported-employment program, the store is expected to provide six to eight people supported by Lexington with employment.
“We’re doing this as an opportunity to provide jobs for people we support,” said Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for Business and Community Development. “We’ve been trying to figure out how we can give people employment opportunities with some support as well. In another retail operation they might not get that type of support. That’s what’s going to make it special for us. We can give them support. We know what their challenges might be and hopefully we make them secure and strong enough to go do this in another retail operation because they will have had the experience.”
Supported employment includes a job coach, transportation, specialized job training and individually-tailored supervision, according to a news release from Lexington.
Hart said funding was budgeted for the retail venture to get it started, but the hope is that it will be self-sustainable like any other successful business.
“We’re trying to run this like a business, so obviously we hope they will be profitable and pay all their expenses,” Hart said.
In the release, Hart said Lexington is happy to support downtown with its new retail endeavor. He and Lexington’s Program Manager of Employment Opportunities Ashley Walton added during an interview Thursday that they liked the foot traffic downtown as well.
The consignment shop will begin accepting items from the public starting Monday, from noon to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Encore Kids will specialize in clothing and accessories for boys and girls ages 6 through 16, or sizes five through juniors. The store will accept items on a seasonal basis. Walton said the goal is to stock the store with seasonal items such as outerwear and other fall clothing in the back-to-school season. Bookbags and other like items are needed for that time.
Consignments must be gently used or new, in excellent condition, laundered and free of stains and odors. The store also will accept children’s books in excellent condition.
Walton said organizers approached Panache consignment store owner Deb Sauber for advice.
“Deb has been an amazing resource for us. Obviously she’s successful and has a great selection and a great business,” Hart said.
Walton said Sauber helped Lexington determine the market for the store and set up its consignment policy.
Panache doesn’t sell children’s clothing, so there is no conflict.
“She said people come into her store and want to [consign children’s clothing] and she doesn’t do that, so that is where the idea for a children’s shop came from,” Walton said.
At Encore Kids, people who sell their items will get 50 percent of the sale price. The item will get marked down after it is on the shelves for a certain amount of time. If a sale is over $40, the consignee will get to keep 2/3 of the money from the sale.
The store also will provide an outlet for other products like hand-made greeting cards, jewelry, decorative accessories for home and office and the Creative Expressions program.
Creative Expressions is Lexington’s art program. Pieces from the program that could include photography, paintings and sculpture among other mediums will be used to decorate the shop. They’ll also be for sale.
“They make incredible rustic Adirondack style decorative things and beautiful cards for all occasions,” Hart said
Nicolella said there’s no set price range. Prices will depend on the item’s quality and brand name, but everything will be reasonably priced, she said.
“We’re going to have everything reasonably priced so people can get some really high-end clothes and reasonable prices,” Nicolella said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff from Gap and Old Navy and places like that already that will be at really good prices. We’ll have other things besides clothes we’ve got skates, shoes and athletic shoes.”
Nicolella said she’s happy to be back in retail. She worked in the kitchen at Lexington but has 20 years of retail experience. Many recognize her from her six years at Regal Attire in Johnstown. She also managed a candy store in western New York.
Lexington also opened Harrison Document Services on Harrison Street Extension about a month ago.
People can bring their documents there to have them scanned and then shredded if they wish.
“We’re interested in reaching out to other businesses in the community to provide that service,” Walton said.
Walton said Lexington has been paying people through its supported-employment program to do that internally for a while, so they’ve become “pretty skilled at it now.”
The sheltered workshop at Lexington Center provided employment for disabled adults, allowing them to earn a paycheck for basic assembly-line and packaging work in a supervised, safe environment, for about 40 years before it was closed Oct. 1.
Since then, the agency has expanded the scope of its supported-employment program, creating new opportunities for disabled individuals to find work in the community, such as Harrison Document Services and Encore Kids.