Summer Sloan Alvey shares how her dream came true as an owner of a thriving resale clothing franchise and why first-time entrepreneurs’ dreams can as well
Since Summer Sloan Alvey was a child, she’s always dreamed of opening her own resale clothing store. Her dream is not a surprise – it’s the family business. Her mother and father, Brent and Shauna Sloan, founded Kid to Kid, a children’s resale clothing franchise that buys and sells the best things kids outgrow. Her siblings, Scott and Chelsea, would follow in their parents’ footsteps, founding Uptown Cheapskate when Alvey was a teenager.
Launched in 2008, Uptown Cheapskate is an upscale resale clothing franchise with more than 75 locations in 22 states. Uptown Cheapskate focuses on giving young professionals a place to buy and sell fashionable, name-brand items and a sustainable shopping experience that aligns with their values of environmental responsibility and community.
In this interview, Alvey shares what makes Uptown Cheapskate stand out from its competitors and why first-time business owners, even those without industry experience, can thrive as franchise owners.
What does Uptown Cheapskate mean to you?
Alvey: I’ve grown up shopping resale and thrifting with my mom, so I’ve always been accustomed to the idea that it is fine to have used clothing. When I was a teenager, it was really exciting when my siblings opened Uptown Cheapskate. I told all of my friends about this really neat concept my family had started and my friends really made an impact. They’re even more excited about my husband Aaron and I purchasing our own location.
What’s special about Uptown Cheapskate? Who does it appeal to?
Alvey: There aren’t many stores that offer recycling in an upscale store at an affordable price. I think we excel above our competitors because not only do we have great clothing, but we are also recycling. I think that message comes across loud and clear to our customers and vendors.
Honestly, I think we appeal to everyone. Teens are our main focus, but moms, dads and even grandmothers can come in – we’re truly for everyone. We sell all adult clothing, so anyone looking for fashionable clothes and good prices should come to Uptown Cheapskate.
How does Uptown Cheapskate determine the quality of clothes it sells to customers?
Alvey: We have a lot of training videos the corporate office provides that teaches us how to look through each item to see if it’s worth taking into the store. We try to be selective in terms of anything with condition issues, which we’ll pass aside. However, anything that is in good condition, value and a great brand we’ll take it, recycle it and get it back out into the community.
The great thing is that you do not have to be a fashion expert to own or work at Uptown Cheapskate. I like to say as long as you can do laundry and sort colored and non-colored clothes, you can absolutely thrive at an Uptown Cheapskate. I will say, however, our customers have a lot more education. But for our owners, it takes practice and training to understand what a piece of clothing is worth.
Can you further enumerate on the training Uptown Cheapskate provides?
Alvey: We use a buying system called IMAP, which provides us with price points for the clothing. For instance, it shoots out a range of prices we can sell the product for and we select the price based on the condition of the item. Each item is so different, but IMAP makes it possible for us to easily identify what we can price it for in the store as well as what we can pay our vendors in cash or 20 percent more in store credit.
Additionally, if my husband or I aren’t there, this gives us great comfort knowing that our employees have been trained well. We always like to say after training we hoped we’ve trained our employees in-store and up to the point where they understand what our goals and expectations are. I’m really grateful to BaseCamp for providing those great videos and having a great team as well.
What are your hopes for your business?
Alvey: To get the message out that we are a store that recycles clothing and you can find things here at the best price compared to anywhere else. Hopefully, we’ll also get to the point where we can open more stores. If this store continues to do well then we can open another location in a few years and positively impact another community.
Why is now a good time to invest in an Uptown cheapskate?
Alvey: The fashion industry is enormous and it’s continuing to grow. There’s so much room for growth in terms of your location with us. Uptown Cheapskate has 75 locations and we’re still growing. To succeed in this industry, all entrepreneurs need to be is time sensitive and hard-working. Most importantly, you have to be passionate not only about fashion, but also recycling and making a difference in your community.