“I know I won’t get rich in this store, but it provides me a level of sanity,” is how Cindy Platt describes Grease Rags Clothing Co.
The store offers fashions and accessories for women and men. Platt stocks quite a few lines she discovered on the Internet because she doesn’t like buying clothes online. Selecting something to wear by looking at an image didn’t meet her needs as a shopper. Platt thought a lot of other people might feel the same way.
“You can’t try it on. You can’t touch it and feel it,” she said.
She opened the store in October 2013 at 40 W. Monroe St. Since then, the inventory has evolved based on what customers wanted – and what they didn’t.
“I found out men wouldn’t buy slacks or jeans here,” Platt said.
Many of the clothing and jewelry lines at Grease Rags are aimed at the rockabilly and pin-up vintage movements. The shop has become a gathering place for people who like to wear clothing that’s not available just anywhere.
Platt’s vision for Grease Rags also has evolved. When the space next to the store became available, the landlord offered it to her, thinking she might want a larger space after being voted Jacksonville’s best clothing store by the readers of Folio Weekly.
She decided against expanding the retail clothing business due to the cost involved in acquiring enough merchandise to stock double the floor space.
Platt, an oral cancer survivor, leased the additional space and started a nonprofit organization, ROCSTART (Rallying for Oral Cancer Support Through Art), to raise awareness of the disease and the issues facing those who are diagnosed.
Funds are raised through the sale of art in a gallery that’s part of Grease Rags. Platt plans events to raise money to help people being treated for oral cancer.
“Even the best medical care and health insurance doesn’t take care of everything. Sometimes, it’s as simple as someone needing a gas card so they can get to chemotherapy,” she said.
The space is available for rent for a nominal fee to people who want to have meetings or conduct classes or seminars.
“It’s a place where everyone is welcome and anything is possible,” said Platt.
Grease Rags doesn’t market its merchandise with a website, but Platt uses social media to keep customers informed of new arrivals.
“I’ll post a new item on Instagram and I’ll get orders from as far away as California,” she said. “Social media is crucial for a small business.”
It also has worked the other way for the shop. Platt said several of her vendors discovered the store through her social media posts and contacted her to see if she might sell their fashions.
Plans for this year include developing more ROCSTART events and continuing to search for new clothing and accessory lines that will be available in Jacksonville exclusively at Grease Rags.
Platt said she will be debuting some new clothing lines in January and she’s always open to new ways to promote the nonprofit’s mission.
“I have plenty of ideas,” she said. “It just takes organization to make it all happen.”