The Collector Store

Juniors Working At Resale Store Plato’s Closet Bond Over School, Work and Clothes


Credit to Kamryn Bell

Juniors Gavin Atkinson, Mia Plaza and Sam Harris hang up clothes at their workplace, Plato’s Closet. Their shift included working 5-9 p.m. helping customers and organizing clothes. This is a second-hand clothing store located in St. Charles that sells name-brand clothes for a cheaper price.

By Heeral Patel, Features Editor

Sort through donations. Hang clothes. Put them on the rack. Ring out customers. Pick out mannequin outfits and set up the front window display. Their job is both mechanical and creative. For juniors Isabel Manzanares, Emmalyn Gerhardt, Sam Harris, Mia Plaza and Gavin Atkinson, this is their work routine at the thrift store Plato’s Closet.

“Every worker is behind the counter at all times, so we’re all interacting with each other at all times, we’re interacting with the customers over-the-counter,” Manzanares said. “It’s really laid-back. Everyone who works there is in college or in high school. Our manager, our owner is like 30 but she’s really chill, so it’s all really friendly and pretty open.”

Atkinson started working at Plato’s Closet at the end of last April, eventually roping Manzanares into the gig by the beginning of July. Come end of November, Plaza quit her job at CVS to work at Plato’s Closet. Harris and Gerhardt joined the crew in December.

Knowing people who already worked at Plato’s Closet helped sway each of them into turning in the application. Working and going to school together allows them to connect over not only things going on at both places; it essentially expands their circle of friends. They also benefit from helping each other on school work and reminding each other to request off on days like Snowcoming and Prom.

“We can talk about school when we’re there, like what happened that day,” Plaza said. “Knowing that I have people I know there is nice.”

They each have different personalities and personal styles, ranging from Atkinson and Manzanares’ rocking classic 90s looks, to Plaza and Gerhardt dressing cute yet comfortable, to Harris sporting athletic clothes. But common threads of their school, their work, their sense of humor and their love for clothes weave them together.

“It’s really fun,” Harris said. “I’m glad that it’s my first job because it’s not super boring, it’s not hard work and you have friends there. Overall, I’d say it’s a fun, good experience, plus you get paid.”

Plato’s Closet buys trendy clothes, all in styles worn by teenagers, from donors. Employees sort through them, deciding what the store will keep in the back, what will be donated and what will go out on the floor. Whatever doesn’t make the cut gets donated to the Salvation Army or the Shoeman Water Project. Clothes that are going out get tagged, sensored and hung on racks in order by size and color. If a worker finds something they like, they can throw it in their personal tub to buy later. Along with first pick, employees also get a 30 percent discount on purchases. Since she started working there, Manzanares says her closet has tripled in size, and Gerhardt feels working with clothes has made her dress nicer.

“I feel like it’s made me more creative with fashion and stuff like that,” Gerhardt said. “There are so many different personalities [at work], and we all like different things. It makes me more open to liking other and more creative in the way I dress, and there’s stuff I wouldn’t have even thought of. Everybody there is so unique.”