Mallory Shocklee noticed a trendy-looking new store on Brentwood Boulevard as she was driving by and decided to check it out. She was glad she did.
“I kind of thought it was resale from the name,” Shocklee said.
She was right. (Re)Fresh is a new venture of the nonprofit Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition. It aims to bring top-quality used clothing and accessories to fashion-conscious teens and 20-somethings in the St. Louis metro area.
Shocklee was pleasantly surprised when she found a store filled with name-brand clothes, including party dresses, work clothes, jeans, shoes and accessories.
She went home with a like-new white-and-black geometric print dress from Banana Republic for only $24—she figured it would have cost her three times as much new at the mall.
“I love it,” said Shocklee, a St. Louis mom who was shopping with her 7-month-old daughter Lydia. “I was thinking I could dress it up with a skinny red belt.”
The find was even sweeter knowing that the money she spent would go to help programs supporting adoption and foster care.
(Re)Fresh opened in June but plans an official grand opening on Aug. 20. Its existence is owed in large part to volunteers who helped turn the former office space in the Joseph H. White Building at the corner of Brentwood Boulevard and Rose Avenue into a hip, teen-friendly destination.
The Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, one of the St. Louis area’s largest recruiters of adoptive and foster care homes, hopes the store does more than just support programming.
It also wants to help foster youth and their families stretch their state-allotted clothing allowances by giving them deep discounts on the already-reduced clothing.
Jessi Brawley, development and community relations manager for the coalition, which has offices above the store, said youth in foster care get an average of $340 a year for clothing. (Re)Fresh gives them up to 90 percent off items at the store, which typically run about $10 each.
Organizers also hope to promote volunteerism in area teens by encouraging them to organize clothing drives at their schools and in their communities. Other teens volunteer in the store, tagging clothes and working the register.
“It makes me feel like I’m contributing to the community in a good way,” said Marnai Summers, 15, a sophomore at Fort Zumwalt East High School in St. Peters. “It’s better than sitting at home all summer.”
A third part of the store’s mission is to provide job training to foster youth. The coalition designed a 90-day training program for foster youth from 16 to 21. The idea is to give them that elusive first job and gain experience in skills such as customer relations.
The store carries clothes for both young men and women. The ground-floor window displays are filled with fashionable summer dresses, tops and shorts. An open spiral staircase leads to the second floor and more dresses, shoes and jewelry. A DJ booth stands ready for special events such as parties and fashion shows.
Jessica Duco, 24, of Belleville, IL, just graduated from Fontbonne University and is completing her internship hours with (Re)Fresh. She was part of a focus group that helped come up with the floor plan for the store; she also helped run a clothing drive at her school.
“I love this whole store,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea, and I think it’s going to be very successful. It’s like your friend’s closet.”
Currently, the store is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It is open exclusively to foster youth and foster and adoptive families from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.