Very few clothing stores can honestly say that they are “clothing neutral.” The Closet Exchange (all 4 of the Great Plain Ave. retail locations for that matter) is one of the few exceptions. In the spirit of humanitarianism and environmentalism, The Closet Exchange, a consignment-clothing store for women, is committed to not wasting any of the articles of clothing that they sell.
Brenda Stark, owner of The Closet Exchange, uses a sophisticated computer based system to keep track of the gently pre-owned items left by consignment account holders. Once entered into the system, items are placed on the racks in the 3 retail stores for sale. The consignor receives 50% of the sale. Unsold clothing is donated to 4 local charities assisting women: Dress for Success, Circle of Hope, Rosie’s Place and Boomerangs. The consignor receives the tax credit for any donated items. In this closed loop, the store does not throw anything away. All of the charities reuse the clothing to support their programs for abused women, women re-entering the workforce, AIDS research, and women in immediate need. Each week, several hundred pieces of clothing are dropped off, processed and placed on the racks for sale. Donations to the above charities are made weekly. More specific information about this process is available on the store’s website: http://www.closetexchange.com/consignment/howto
While the clothing given to charity fills an important need for underprivileged women, there is a shortage of other basic necessities such as toiletries and make up. In response to this shortage, Brenda created a program called “Women Helping Women,” for the purpose of donating these items as well as clothing to charities.
The Closet Exchange’s consignment embodies some of the fundamental principles of environmentalism: reducing and reusing. By reusing clothes and other items the need for new clothes is reduced. In other words, the chain does its small part to reduce demand for the production of new clothes, a production process that uses a lot of materials and energy. The Closet Exchange is a good example about how you can think outside the “solar and wind box” for ways to “be green.”