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Community-Focused Plato’s Closet Franchise Owner Invests in Sustainability

It’s no secret that the fashion industry has a sustainability issue.

Experts have predicted that the fashion industry’s water consumption will increase to 31.17 trillion gallons, its carbon footprint will grow to 2,791 million tons and the amount of waste created by the industry will hit 148 million tons by 2030.

As a lifelong fan of resale and secondhand shopping, Susan Chow decided to become a Plato’s Closet® franchisee to do something about it.

Left: Susan Chow at one of her Plato's Closet stores. Right: The interior of one of her Plato's Closet stores.

“So much clothing gets thrown into landfills and dumps,” she said. “If we can give two or three owners the opportunity to use that garment, it helps keep it out of landfills.”

From Resale Shopper to Resale Franchise Owner

Before having her son and later becoming a Plato’s Closet franchisee, Susan owned two successful restaurants, which she built from the ground up and independently operated. She took the opportunity to sell both restaurants shortly after having her son, and she then took five years off to spend time with her family.

As Susan began considering a new business venture, Plato’s Closet came to mind because she was a customer in the U.S. and loved the concept. The ability to own a sustainable business played a huge role in Susan’s decision to become a Plato’s Closet franchisee.

“I wanted to do something that meant something, and not just own a business,” she said. “I loved Plato’s Closet, but it hadn’t yet occurred to me that they were in Canada. I thought they were just in the U.S. When I found out there was a franchise in Canada, I got involved.”

Susan opened her first location in Guelph, Ontario in November 2016. Two years later, she opened her second store in Brantford, Ontario.

“I appreciated the concept so much because I had been a customer for so many years,” she said. “Now, not only am I sold as a customer, but I’m also sold as an owner.”

Plato’s Closet Meets the Demand for Sustainable Fashion

When Susan was growing up, recycling and sustainability weren’t really part of the conversation. Today, sustainability is a high priority for consumers across the board, and especially for millennial and Generation Z consumers.

Ninety percent of millennials and 80 percent of Gen Zers said it is “extremely” or “very” important for companies to implement practices to improve the environment, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen.

A display at Plato's Closet.

The survey also found that demand for eco-friendly business practices is split evenly across gender – 80 percent of men and 81 percent of women said they place importance on businesses implementing programs to improve the environment.

As younger consumers become increasingly eco-conscious, Plato’s Closet allows Susan to meet the growing demand for sustainable, ethical fashion.

“I loved Plato’s Closet because it appeals to both guys and girls,” she said. “It’s not your typical small consignment store that normally just caters to women. Plato’s Closet is the only place I know that actually caters to the entire demographic that really cares about the Earth and the environment.”

Giving Back to the Community in More Ways Than One

In addition to providing a place for her community to sell gently used items and purchase resale clothing, Susan also gives back to her community in other ways. If a piece of clothing doesn’t sell in Susan’s stores, its life isn’t over there. Susan routinely donates clearance and unsold merchandise to different charitable organizations in the area.

Susan donates to three different local organizations from her Guelph location: an organization that collects clothing for homeless people and refugees, another that helps teens rehabilitate from addiction and mental illness, and one that delivers clothing to local women’s shelters.

“I try to distribute amongst the three so everyone can benefit from it,” she said. “As for Brantford, I’m currently trying to find a local organization to partner with.”

The interior of a Plato's Closet.

As a business owner, Susan thinks it’s crucial for businesses to give back to the communities that support them.

“My community is who is supporting my business – without the support of the community, I wouldn’t have a business,” she said. “I know I’m supporting my community and doing my part because, without the community, my business would not survive.”

As a franchise owner, Susan is extremely passionate about the Plato’s Closet brand, but her love of Winmark brands and sustainable resale retailers doesn’t end there.

“I’ve owned several businesses, and I love everything about Plato’s Closet,” she said. “I’m also a customer of Once Upon a Child® and Style Encore®. I think it is such a great way to be able to recycle things.”

Are you interested in owning a sustainable retail business? Contact us today to learn more about franchise opportunities with Plato’s Closet.