Women who have difficulty finding distinctive clothing in Fort Dodge are in luck. Clarice Thompson is opening a store in the Crossroads Mall that will greatly increase the selection locally of designer clothing.
"It's basically clothing for women - shoes, jewelry and scarves," Thompson said. "That's including pants, blouses, some jackets, dresses. ... It's a range of things. I'm gearing it toward 25 and older. It's American and European designers It's mid- to high-end. ... You can buy designers in a mid-range. There are designers in a mid-range and then there are designers in a high range."
Thompson said her store addresses a need for an increased availability in Fort Dodge of sophisticated and trendy clothing for women who aren't satisfied with routine, mass-marketing options. She said her own shopping experiences and those of her friends convinced her that the demand for what Clarice's Fashions provides is great.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Clarice Thompson, owner of Clarice’s Fashions, prepares some of the merchandise displays in her new store at the Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge.
"I prefer buying from Fort Dodge, but when I shopped, it was always out of town," she said. "A lot of the people that I know, they were always going out of town. ... It's a big need here."
Thompson said her store will help keep the dollars people have been spending in other locales in Fort Dodge.
"The whole reason for the store is to supply women with designer clothes," Thompson said. "That's something every woman wants - whether it is mid-range or high-range. That is the whole emphasis of the store - clothes and accessories. ... Sizes will start from 4 and up. I will have some plus sizes ... I want every woman to have the opportunity for quality clothes. ... I'm excited about it. I've had a lot of positive feedback."
While some people might be hesitant to start a business in a slow economy, Thompson said she is convinced her store will thrive.
"Women love their clothes and shoes," she said. "I feel very optimistic about the store because the need is so great."
Though she grew up in Texas, Thompson has long been part of the retail world in north central Iowa. For a number of years she was in auto sales. She owned a Ford dealership in Fort Dodge for 11 years and later had a used car business. Thompson said she has been in the retail world "all my adult life."
At the beginning of her professional life, however, Thompson was a model. She said she has a lifelong passion for fashion. He latest business venture represents a return to that world.
"It was my first love," Thompson said, reflecting on why she decided to launch Clarice's Fashions. "I did a lot of praying about it and my next thought was go to your first love. And that was my first love. ... It was just so strong in my heart to pursue it. So, I did."
The return to the fashion industry is an exciting adventure, Thompson said.
"I love helping people accomplish what they want to accomplish," she said, explaining why this part of the retail world is so appealing to her.
Thompson has a straightforward message for potential customers.
"I have an excellent reputation in town because I've been here for quite a few years and been in different industries. They know that I am above board and honest," she said. "There will be a variety of clothing that women are looking for. Once they are in the store, they will see that."
Clarice's Fashions will welcome its first customers in March. The 3,200-square-foot suite it occupies is near Younkers. Thompson said Crossroads Mall is "an excellent spot and a perfect fit." She is the owner-manager of the store. Kaylynn Jennings is the assistant manager. The team also includes Jean Utz in sales and seamstress Ardis Sorensen. Clarice's Fashions will be open normal Crossroads Mall hours with the exception that it will be closed on Sundays. Thompson said that as the enterprise unfolds she will be holding fashion shows both at the store and elsewhere in the community.
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org