Corner clothing store offers much more
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Carlinville citizens may notice that the business next to the former building for Taylor’s Mexican Chili Parlor has changed completely. In the window sits a sign that beckons window shoppers to find out more about the clothing store on the corner.
Lil Bits Gently Used Clothing owner Stacy Gross has been in management and supervisory positions for approximately 30 years. “I know I can make this business a success because of my experience in sales,” she said.
Although she was born and raised in Carlinville, Gross lived in Florida for several years. In 2015, she returned to the area to help with her family’s health issues and eventually decided it was the best choice for her to physically stay.
The idea for Lil Bits came about after Gross was looking for clothes for her grandchildren. She said she had trouble finding quality attire for an inexpensive price. During June 2016, she acquired her business ownership license and started to accumulate merchandise. Items came from yard sales, auctions and donations. She added, “We actually received a lot of donated clothing. It’s truly been a blessing.”
Initially, Gross intended on having the store’s location in the Carlinville plaza; however, she was not fond of having a three year lease. “Most businesses fail within the first year,” she said. “If my store wasn’t successful, then I would be locked into a lease that I wouldn’t be able to afford.” Gross previously knew the owner of her current building, and upon reviewing the location, she saw that it had ample space for her wares. On Jan. 19, Lil Bits Gently Used Clothing opened their doors at 114 East Side Square.
Although some of the clothing for sale is second-hand, Gross did note that some attire is purchased new and have their original tags. All wearable items are laundered, ironed and checked for stains. “We have clothing ranging from infants to retirees, and we try to keep everything modern and wearable — stuff people will buy,” she said.
According to Gross, anything that cannot be donated or sold is recycled. She is hoping to turn unwearable clothing into quilts, but she said it would be a new adventure for herself and her mother.
Gross clarified that Lil Bits is not just a clothing store. They also sell antiques and furniture. This includes curtains, sheets, dishes, knickknacks, picture frames and purses. She is planning to offer merchandise such as barrettes, jewelry and key chains from local artists prior to Market Days.
Gross also hopes to offer more services beyond retail sales in the coming months, specifically for students in need. This would involve bringing in school supplies that would be made affordable for families who can’t afford the materials they need for their children’s education. For now, she believes she’ll start accepting donations for school supplies in July.
Lil Bits is currently running off of volunteer help. Gross said, “It’s turned into a family affair. They’ve helped with getting supplies and building shelves and racks as well as operating the store in my absence.” She may hire temporary help for special occasions and believes that six to nine months down the road she’ll hire more employees.
When asked about her business’s goals, Gross jokingly responded, “Survive. It’s our livelihood now.” She explained that her actual hope is to expand the store to have two separate rooms for clothing and household items. She also would like to do more to provide for students in the area.
Inquiring customers can reach the store by calling (239) 233-2375 (it is recommended to leave a message) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The store also has a Facebook page where promotions and featured items are posted.
Overall, Gross wants people to know they can get quality clothing in town without having to empty their pocketbook, and she thanked everyone who assisted in getting the store started. “We’re going to jump in and try not to plan too far in advance,” she said. “It’s one box at a time. One step at a time.”
Lil Bits owner Stacy Gross received help from her parents and husband to get the business started this year. Pictured from left to right are Michael Hesseldenz, Estelle Hesseldenz, Stacy Gross and Ronald Gross.