A big setback occurred just a few months after opening day. There was a late-night fire at the laundry that adjoins her building. While Andrea’s store didn’t suffer any direct damage from the fire, all her clothing stock was ruined from smoke damage. Most people would use this as a good excuse to lock the door for good. But not Andrea Whiteside. The store has just recently celebrated its first anniversary after reopening following the fire.
Andrea has yet to make a profit but she’s optimistic and doing her best to make this succeed. She’s received good advice from customers, from friends, and from Faye Bishop, the director of the Small Business Center at Isothermal Community College.
I asked Andrea what advice she would give to someone thinking of starting a business. Andrea, someone without any previous retail experience, says, “Be willing to take advice. Go to school. Ask for help. Find out what the people want. And do one thing and do it well.”
Andrea started the store for several reasons. One of course is that she herself is a “plus size” and knows how hard it is to find clothing that she likes. She knew there were plenty of potential customers faced with the same situation and why not be the store that can help?
Andrea’s Plus Size Clothing is more than “just” a store. She has become a de facto “counselor” helping people – friends and strangers, when they come in with something on their minds. She listens and listens and then offers them comfort. She recalls a homeless person who came into the store one day and she knew this woman needed some help. The woman said she just needed someone to talk to and Andrea was her rock in that time of need. Her pastor says the store is not just a store, it is Andrea’s own little ministry.
It has become a “calling” for Andrea to make this work. No doubt she will.
More to Know:
Andrea’s Plus Size Clothing is located at 415 Main Street in Spindale. 828-447-9737. She’s open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday. Check her Facebook page for hours. In addition to clothes, the store carries jewelry, handbags, scarves, and other accessories including some items handmade right in the store by Andrea herself. Clothes styles are changed with each season.
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