Danielle Schultz—Staff Writer
In a small building just south of Sioux Center, customers peruse racks of discounted brand-name clothing, occasionally holding up items that catch their eye. Although many of these customers are older women, one is Dordt College sophomore Fey Rodriguez. She is visiting Outlet 75 for the first time since it opened on March 13.
Fey wanders the store, taking in the unique assortment of shoes, shirts, leggings, dresses, winter coats, collared shirts, dress slacks and jeans. Even baby clothes hang on a few racks in the back. Brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger peek out from the necklines of shirts or the waistlines of pants. Heavy flannel coats hang on a rack for only nine dollars each.
The space, formerly the home of Centre Music, has been transformed into a cozy “deals-hunter destination,” as the Sioux Center Christian website advertises. The outlet’s goal is to provide an alternate revenue source for the school, according to manager Bethany Bosma and assistant manager Melissa Punt.
“College students were actually the main targets,” says Punt, referring to not only the low-priced clothing, but also the affordable furniture and the Banana Boxes—packages of food sold for a fraction of the retail price. Everything from breakfast bars to salad dressing sticks out from the tops of Banana boxes sitting on shelves by the counter.
As for furniture, Outlet 75 boasts a comfy couch, a variety of colorful chairs and a desk among other pieces. During her exploration, Fey takes a seat on a gray, upholstered couch soaking in sunshine streaming through a window. It would be nice for her apartment next year, she tells her friend, before getting up to examine a couple of metal bookends with goats on them.
In the warehouse part of the building, several elderly volunteers work on assembling yet more furniture for the store. A few wooden chairs already stand scattered around the space, waiting for more to join them. Boxes of clothes are piled high to the left of the workers, waiting to be unpacked. Because the organization depends on volunteers, Outlet 75 is always looking for new people to help balance the workload.
“I think we always want to grow,” Bosma says. Even though Outlet 75 already has between 20 and 25 volunteers, she encourages college students to consider helping when they are looking for service projects.
It took one and a half years for Sioux Center Christian to make Outlet 75 a reality, and now one of their goals is to be debt free from the loan they had to take out. The number of cars filling the parking lot on this beautiful March morning is a promising sight for accomplishing this goal.
Sporting a purple jacket her mother picked up at the store, Dordt sophomore Ashley Zwart only has good things to say about Outlet 75.
“I think it’s kind of a unique way to have the community support SCC,” Zwart said. “I know for me, as an alumni there, I still care about that place. It’s a big part of this town.”
Outlet 75 is open Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.