Mix, match and save

Racks of neon windbreakers, “Thrift Shop”-inspired faux fur jackets and bib overalls line the walls of Ragstock, Campustown’s recently opened new- and used-clothing boutique.

The store officially opened Aug. 9 in the basement of 627 S. Wright St., and, according to customers shopping there Friday morning, it has been a great addition to the campus community.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., Ragstock has 25 locations throughout the Midwest, with other campustown locations at the University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Michigan.

JSM, a company that owns 1,400 student apartments in the Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington, Ill. areas, in addition to 450,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, leased the 6,300 sq. ft. of basement space to Ragstock after Follett’s Bookstore, the location’s previous tenant, closed in May. JSM also brought Urban Outfitters to campus in 2008.

“JSM has been working for nearly two years to find the right spot for Ragstock,” stated Jill Guth, JSM’s director of commercial leasing and marketing, in a press release in May. “They like quirky spaces and the basement of 627 Wright is perfect for their needs.”

Jessica Cain, manager of Champaign’s Ragstock, calls the store’s style “eclectic,” one that allows customers to “mix and match” to create a unique look without breaking their budget.

“The possibilities are endless,” Cain said. “And it’s affordable, that’s a big plus.”

Lucy Pakhnyuk, Ragstock employee and junior in LAS, formerly worked at Urban Outfitters, but has been working at Ragstock’s Champaign location since Aug. 16. She said that prices generally range from $5 to $25, with more expensive items at about $40. She categorized Ragstock’s clothing as “random and quirky,” perfect for anyone interested in buying costume-like clothing.

As the manager of the store, Cain often sends in item requests to two buyers — one in charge of buying new clothing and the other in charge of buying used clothing — based on customer demand and what she thinks the store needs. Lately, she said, customers have turned their attention to barn dance attire.

On Friday, Cody Osborn, sophomore in ACES, shopped at Ragstock with two of his friends for the first time, browsing racks of cowboy boots, flannel shirts and bib overalls. They planned to attend the Delta Delta Delta sorority barn dance Saturday evening.

Despite the trio’s original shopping plans, they, in addition to Osborn’s friends Molly Toliver, sophomore in Education, and Mark Lara, junior in AHS, soon found themselves drawn away from the country wear. They gravitated toward the ’80s sports windbreakers, which Cain said “are so cheesy and so popular” that they “just fly out of here.”

While Osborn asked Toliver how he looked in his neon multi-colored windbreaker, Lara strutted in a windbreaker decorated with a red, gold and blue circular key design. He posed like an ’80s hip-hop rapper in front of his friends, and received a laugh.

“Ragstock seems to have a ‘different vibe,’” Pakhnyuk said. “It’s more relaxed, personal and fun.”

Ragstock is also preparing for Halloween, Cain said, and is planning to set aside a section specifically for costumes, wigs and Halloween make-up. And, for those chilly winter months? According to Ragstock’s website, “ugly Christmas sweaters” are set to hit stores in November.

Amanda and Emma can be reached at [email protected]