LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Clothing retailer coming to 23rd Street; Lawrence a finalist to be named the best food town in the Midwest
Whenever I think of the phrase “a melting pot of shoes, clothing and accessories,” I’m reminded of the bonfire my wife set using my favorite 1980s wardrobe. Fortunately, there’s another such melting pot. The clothing reseller Plato’s Closet describes itself as a melting pot of fashion, and it has announced plans to move its Lawrence store closer to one of its main audiences.
Plato’s Closet has signed a deal to move into the 23rd Street space previously occupied by the Jock’s Nitch sporting goods store at 1116 W. 23rd St. Plato’s Closet currently has a Lawrence store in the shopping center next to Hy-Vee at Clinton Parkway and Kasold. That store will close once the new Plato’s Closet opens, local franchise owner John Nichols said.
“This will be a high visibility location that really will be more convenient for the college students,” Nichols said.
If you aren’t familiar with Plato’s Closet, that is probably a sign that you don’t wear enough hip clothing. (I can loan you a pair of parachute pants, if needed. They are made of a material that fortunately didn’t burn.) What Plato’s Closet does is buy good quality used clothing from area residents. It focuses on brand name items that fit certain fashion trends. They pay cash for the clothing, then turn around and sell it to other area residents. Prices generally are less than half what the items sold for new.
The fact the store’s inventory comes from people within the community is where the melting pot idea comes from. Nichols, who also owns a Plato’s Closet in Mission, said he thinks the melting pot idea will be even stronger at the new location.
“The cool thing about buying clothing from college students is they come from all over,” Nichols said. “They come from the coasts, from other countries, and you really get a lot of variety that way.”
Nichols hopes to have the new Lawrence store open sometime in September. Plato’s Closet, though, won’t be the only tenant in the building. The store plans to occupy 4,000 square feet in the building, which will leave enough space for at least one other tenant. Nichols said he hadn’t received any word of who else may be locating in the building. If I hear more, I’ll let you know.
As for Jock’s Nitch, it has ended its presence on 23rd Street, but the retailer of sporting goods apparel and other such items still has a store in downtown Lawrence.
In other news and notes from around town:
• We go from melting pots to great dishes. Lawrence is trying to get some national recognition for the latter.
Lawrence is one of 12 regional towns chosen by Midwest Living magazine to compete for the title of Greatest Midwest Food Town. Like many of these contests, online voting will ultimately determine the winner. Voting is now open and people can vote once per day through May 31. The winner will get a big write-up in the September/October issue of Midwest Living magazine.
The magazine provides a brief description of each town’s food scene. For Lawrence the editors say the city has a “whiff of inland Portlandia about it.” (I think the editors at Midwest Living wear hipper clothes than I do because I don’t know what that means.) The blurb also states the culinary soul of Lawrence is on Mass Street. It mentions Free State Brewery and how it started doing craft before everyone thought it was cool. It also highlights Mass Street Soda, 715 and its practice of chefs butchering hogs in-house, Wheatfields Bakery and The Burger Stand.
As for Lawrence’s competition, here’s a look:
• Toledo, Ohio, which has something called a Tony Packo’s hot dog, which you may remember was a favorite of Cpl. Klinger on M.A.S.H. (Now, Portlandia fans are confused.)
• Bloomington, Ind., which is home to the University of Indiana, apparently has a trend of pop-up restaurants. According to the blurb, diners are invited into private homes for one-time only meals.
• Ann Arbor, Mich., home to the University of Michigan, has a Zingerman’s Deli that is supposed to be a big deal. But it also has Chef Takashi from the Food Network’s Iron Chef show.
• Champaign, Ill., home to the University of Illinois, proves that every self-respecting college town needs a downtown establishment named after a pig. Lawrence, of course, has The Bourgeois Pig. Champaign has The Blind Pig, which I believe is a brewery.
• Sioux Falls, S.D., evidently is the Paris of the Dakotas. Think outdoor bistros that serve bison burgers and a “patisserie” that has the feel of an art gallery.
• Springfield, Mo., which has the title of the Ozark’s biggest city, has everything from crepes to Texas barbecue to Peruvian fare. I would not know because every time I’m in Springfield it is on my way to Branson. And trust me, you’re a fool if you go to Dolly Parton’s dinner show on a full stomach.
• Madison, Wis., home to the University of Wisconsin, has farmers' markets, a supper club, “rumpled coffeehouses,” and four chefs last year that landed James Beard nominations.
• Des Moines, Iowa, regularly closes its streets to host massive food events, including the The World Food and Music Festival, where you can get Salvadoran pupusas, Nepalese dumplings and several other international dishes.
• Duluth, Minn., on the shore of Lake Superior, boasts some good fish, but also diners that serve dishes like a wild rice burger, bowls of wild mushrooms and maple bacon jam.
• Lincoln, Neb., has a Railyard entertainment district, which editors note has become the first in the state that allows people to walk throughout the district with alcoholic beverages in hand. Perhaps you noticed that Kansas lawmakers are considering a law that will allow cities to designate such areas as well. I believe it is on its way to the governor's desk. I wonder whether Lawrence will seek to have such a drinking district.
• Fargo, N.D., is described as a “an outpost of cool in the far reaches of the Midwest,” and to prove it the city has a Jewish/Icelandic-inspired deli.
After reading that list, Lawrence diners, you surely know what your civic duty requires. People can vote at midwestliving.com/vote.