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Local owner's dream of owning a business comes true with struggles and hardships

clothes mentor
Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 13:07:28-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Since January 1, Katrina Earley has been the new owner of Clothes Mentor at the Lynnhaven East Shopping Center, adjacent to the north of the Lynnhaven Mall.

"I have always wanted to own something,” Earley said, "or kind of just be at the top of whatever company I was working for."

It is her ideal passion and dream. The situation the store is in right now, however, is not so ideal.

"It’s not as busy as I’d like it to be with a pandemic and stuff like that,” she said. “It’s definitely been a roller coaster of emotions."

Katrina worked at Clothes Mentor for 10 years under its last owner. They retired, offered her the store, and she took the chance - but she also found that ownership is different from being an employee.

“The behind-the-scenes stuff is definitely, even something, that is a learning experience,” Earley said, “as far as accounting and hiring and training and all that."

Throw in the continuing coronavirus pandemic, and Early said many people still do not want to go out in public and shop.

She said the process has been slow and made adjustments to the store.

“I added some fixtures and tried to make it a more welcoming environment,” Earley said.

But regardless of the stagnating business, Early said, “I definitely don’t regret it."

The Clothes Mentor sells second-hand women’s clothing and items that are still in good condition and gently used. People do not just donate items; they also get paid for their items.

“They don’t just donate,” Earley explained. “They bring it in, we look through it, pick out the pieces that would sell best for our store, that would be a value for our customers, and we pay them out in cash."

She said the store tries to keep the clothing in good condition and is sold at low prices.

“Formal wear, wedding dresses... stuff like that, we won’t take,” Earley said. “We’re more casual, so jeans and dresses, shorts, tank tops, everyday wear.”

Earley also expressed an interest to work with local designers and sell some of their items in the store.

“Hopefully people are coming in and they see what we have to offer and they come back,” Earley said.

Related: Hampton clothing store with big heart fights back from pandemic closures to keep dream alive

The store is located at 2701 North Mall Drive in Virginia Beach, next to Chipotle and across the parking lot from the Lynnhaven Mall. The store also offers online shopping for customers who would rather shop online.

Clothes Mentor is also hiring. Earley said anyone interested can visit the store and fill out an application.

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