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Get Smart for Back-to-School Shopping

Enjoy stylish, eco-friendly and economical back-to-school shopping at Plato’s Closet and Once Upon A Child

Article by Jennifer Draher

Photography by Terry Fravel

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

With the turn of the calendar to August comes a mix of elation and anxiety for back-to-school season. No matter which of these you’re feeling, back-to-school shopping is made easier (and more fun!) when you shop at Plato’s Closet and Once Upon a Child (OUAC). 

Both located on Dressler Road in the Thursday’s Plaza, these locally owned franchise stores buy and sell gently used clothing, shoes and accessories. The stores offer cash on the spot for items they can purchase from customers, then price and display those items out on the meticulously organized and colorized sales floors. It makes for an ever-changing selection of top name brands at up to 70% off regular retail prices. 

“We may be selective because we want you to be happy when you’re shopping at our stores,” says Barb Minney Schweier, President of The Minney Group, which owns the two stores. “It’s unlike consignment because we pay up front and shoppers can find great things at a fraction of the prices at big box retailers or the mall.”

Plato’s Closet caters to teens 13-18 and college students to young adults. It stocks popular brands like American Eagle, Nike, Pink, Vans, Champion, Gymshark, H&M, Sperry, UGG, Converse, Hollister, lululemon and Under Armour. Two doors down, OUAC is geared toward children newborn to youth size 20, and also offers baby gear like cribs, strollers, highchairs and swings plus toys, games, books and more. 

At Plato’s Closet, our male model, Zack, picked out a whole outfit for just $26: PacSun Jeans for $16 and an American Eagle hoodie for $10. Liz found an American Eagle dress for just $12, and an entire second outfit for $34, including American Eagle corduroy pants ($12), a Universal Threads belt ($6), a Wild Fable white top ($8) and an Aeropostale striped shirt ($8). You just can’t beat those prices, especially for those brands. 

Our youngest models, Josiah and Natalyia snagged some great deals at OUAC, too. Would you believe Josiah’s Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, T-shirt and plaid flannel cost just $18? Natalyia did even better with her $14 Justice ensemble of denim, a T-shirt, and plaid button down. 

Barb says the back-to-school season is one of the busiest times of the year. “At our stores, you can find all the brands you love for great prices all under one roof,” Barb emphasizes. “And when you’re ready to part with gently used pieces in trending styles, sell them to us to get cash on the spot.” 

For anyone looking to sell to either store, the process is really simple. When you clean out your closet, make sure items are freshly laundered and neatly folded in a basket or tote. Bring everything to Plato’s Closet or OUAC for the store team to review – they look at style, condition and safety (particularly for baby items) – and get paid cash for items they accept. Call to check on their buy counter hours before you go in to sell. 

“It’s a quick and easy way to recycle a family’s recently outgrown children’s items,” says Barb.  “And on the shopping side, you save for being eco-friendly.” 

Speaking of saving, Ohio’s tax-free weekend is Friday through Sunday, August 5-7. It means when you shop at these stores that weekend, you don’t have to pay tax and your back-to-school budget goes even further. 

The Minney Group, which also owns the neighboring Clothes Mentor and the Plato’s Closet in Cuyahoga Falls, celebrated the 25th anniversary of opening OUAC last September. The group was founded in 1996 by Barb’s parents, Bob and Melany Minney. The McKinley High School sweethearts passed on day-to-day operations to Barb and her sister-in-law, Kim Cotyk, a decade ago. 

“The Once Upon a Child Canton franchise has been number one in the country for the past 10 years out of nearly 370 stores across the country and in Canada through the Winmark Corporation,” says Barb. “We are proud to say our customers have been loyal and our honest and straightforward process of buying and selling gently used items also offers a sustainable option for area families.”

They’re not just leading in terms of corporate rankings, though – the group has been a stellar community partner over the years, too. They are strong supporters of the North Canton Church of Christ’s community outreach, taking up to three trips a week to donate clothes out of inventory (or from sellers who don’t want to keep the items the store doesn’t buy from them). Barb is also a founding member of the Stark County Diaper Bank, and the stores serve as a drop-off location for diaper donations. The Minney Group also provides discounts for foster families, military and teachers.

So get smart before the school year even starts! Get out to one or both stores before the new school year begins. Plato’s Closet and Once Upon A Child are both open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.