For decades, 1018 Central Ave. was a venue that catered to the imagination of local residents. It housed the now long-gone Dodge movie theater. As part of a commercial renaissance in the city's downtown, 2be Trendy opened at that address on Black Friday.
Extensively remodeled, this historic location is now the home to a distinctive clothing store that adds a new dimension to the local shopping world.
Something of the spirit of the old theater remains a part of this new business venture. The store appeals to the desire of shoppers to find merchandise that is inspirational and exciting. The revived establishment is focused on fashion. Just as the movie theater once offered stimulating cinematic escapes, 2be Trendy specializes in merchandise that departs from the ordinary to help customers make striking fashion statements.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
2 Be Trendy owner Shelli Gibson, center, talks with store manager Marcia Mullins about their selection of clothing items. The store is located at 1018 Central Ave. in downtown Fort Dodge.
Owner Shelli Gibson said she strives to stock clothing and other items that won't be found elsewhere in town. Most of the inventory is targeted at women shoppers. The store does, however, offer tuxedo rentals for the male component of wedding parties.
"We have a little bit of everything," Gibson said. "We have clothes, purses, shoes and boots, accessories, tuxedo rentals."
Whether the customer is seeking just the right choice for a formal occasion or something more casual, 2be Trendy has extensive options.
"If you want a nice pair of jeans and a nice shirt or a sweatshirt, or whatever, we have that," Gibson said. "Then we range from the sequined tops to the prom dresses and tuxedos."
Prom dresses are among the items featured.
"After having two teenage girls and going prom shopping with them, I know that you don't need to charge $500 for a prom dress," Gibson said. "Our prom dresses are all going to be somewhere around $200. ... We're also going to have what we call PW dresses. They are previously worn dresses. ... The girls can bring their dress in here to have us check it out. We are very selective in what we take because we are a new clothing store. Everything in here is new. So, we only take the newest and latest styles."
Gibson stressed that one of the most important features of her store is the inventory approach she has adopted.
"Our inventory is always changing," she said. "We do not reorder. ... Nobody likes to have it be like a chain store where you walk down the street and somebody's got the same thing on as you. ... We change at least every two weeks here. ... There's new merchandise constantly."
Gibson said offering exciting merchandise at prices that are realistic is a priority
"We are priced very reasonably," she said. "Affordable, yet trendy."
For the dedicated seeker of discounts, there is a "bargain bar" with a wide array of clearance items.
"We've got shirts. We've got dresses. We've got dress pants," Gibson said, reflecting on the deeply discounted clearance choices typically available.
The Fort Dodge 2be Trendy is Gibson's second store. She owns a store in Carroll that operates under the same name and opened just over a year ago on Black Friday 2010.
Gibson, a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, said she views Fort Dodge as a superb place to expand her commercial venture.
"I graduated here. I was familiar with the town," she explained. "I wanted a college town. I wanted a bigger town. So, I hope to reach a lot of people."
She said the key to success in this type of enterprise is a commitment to flawless and attentive customer service.
"Customer service is our main thing," Gibson said. "We listen to what the customers say. If they want us to carry something, it's not uncommon in the next week or two weeks we'll have that. We want this to be a fun store where people like to come here. We want them to feel welcome."
The Fort Dodge 2be Trendy is managed by Marcia Mullins and has a staff of three. Mullins is a seamstress and is skilled at making alterations. The store is open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While the interior has been remodeled to create a dramatic setting for displaying fashion choices, there is one feature of the old Dodge theater that remains - the stage area.
"We have the stage and the runway through the fashion area, which I think is unique," Gibson said. "We will be having fashion shows later on."
Her message for prospective customers is straightforward.
"It looks pricey, but it isn't," Gibson said. "I want people to be able to look nice - to have new stuff, but not break the bank. ... I love hunting for deals that I can give back to the customer."
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org