I have interviewed clothiers who dreamed all their life of having a clothing store. That was not the case with Lori Masonia, owner of Classic Closet, located at 1102 S. Jefferson in Athens. She somewhat “fell into” the business, worked as a store manager in Huntsville for five years, and came to love running a consignment store. “I never planned on it,” she added, “and here I still am, 20 years later.” Lori opened her doors on November 3, 1993 at 210 S. Jefferson. She decided to set apart the whole month of November to celebrate that anniversary, and as part of the celebration, everything in the store is 20% off.
What makes Miss Lori’s approach to owning and operating a consignment store unique is that she looks upon clothes as “a tool for the ministry.” Her mission statement for Classic Closet is derived from Matthew 25: 35-40, the teachings that demonstrate that feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick is ministering to Christ himself. “Our purpose is to clothe the naked, physically and spiritually,” she said.
Over the years, Classic Closet has become well known for its formal and bridal wear. “We have people from Giles County in Nashville, clear to Birmingham, and other cities coming to us just for the formal wear. We also have tuxedo rentals at a great price,” she added, “and carry Sam Stewart brand for our tuxes.”
In the aftermath of the April 2011 tornados, a kindergarten teacher by the name of Vickie Shields, herself the mother of teenage girls, came up with the idea of getting prom dresses donated from all around the country so that girls who had lost everything in the storms could still go to the prom in style. Classic Closet was the staging area for the project, and 473 dresses came in to be donated at no cost to the girls or their families. Of the 473, over 300 gowns were given away, and not just gowns, but shoes, purses, and accessories.
One of the things I found heartening about Classic Closet is that clothing that does not sell in Athens is donated to Red Bird Ministries in Eastern Kentucky. Red Bird is supported by many ministerial organizations at their own thrift store, and the clothing is first used to help out the poor in Kentucky, and then goes to 3rd world countries.
As I spent time in the store, it indeed was like “having church.” People came and went, and the phone rang with people who needed to be ministered to. You could tell people felt safe and comfortable. One of the things I heard her say to a woman who had just left an abusive relationship was, “Your windshield is bigger than your rear view mirror.” Lesson learned, “don’t look back.”
That being said, the clothing is top drawer. “We carry many name brands,” Lori told me. They include: Lauren, Ann Taylor, Donna Karan, L.L. Bean, Liz, Eileen Fisher and Chico’s. While I was there, I found a beautiful cobalt blue outfit made out of travel fabric, and some black boots that were virtually unused. I had been looking for both items for quite awhile. I found them both on the same day, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Classic Closet carries men’s and teens lines as well. They include American Eagle, Aeropostale, Gap, Hollister and Polo. “With the economy being tough, families can still afford name brand fashions,” Lori said.
I asked her, as I always do, with several consignment stores in the area, “Why should I come to you?” “We are positive in our attitude, and we see this as a ministry.” She also added, “If I don’t have what you need, I’ll send you to another store in the area.” “Something is on sale all the time,” she said, and you would do well to come to Classic Closet and see what Lori has to offer. If you need prayer, you can get it. If you need a hug, you can get it, and if you want to look good at a great price, Classic Closet is your place. Come and help Lori celebrate 20 years in Athens, with the hope of many more.
Classic Closet Consignment Shop
1102 S. Jefferson Street, Athens, AL 35611
Hours: Mon-Fri 10-5, Sat 10-4
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner