Lowell consignment shop WearForward kicked off July by moving to a new location and debuting a new logo. It can now be found at 207 E. Main Street in the downtown storefront that was previously home to Fans in the Stands.
Despite the changes, the business isn’t straying from its roots as an eco-conscious and size-inclusive store that provides affordable women’s fashion in the latest trends.
New Location Equals More Space
The need for additional space was a driving factor in relocating WearForward from its previous location on the Main Street bridge over the Flat River.
“We’ve been continuously growing bigger and bigger every single month,” says co-owner Tori Runstrom. By moving to a new location, the store has been able to double its sales floor space.
That extra space means more room to highlight items that include designer handbags, trendy clothes, accessories and WearForward branded items such as mugs and candles. The store has also expanded its vintage section.
“We have a huge Betty Boop collection that is super fun,” Runstrom shares. Covering a back wall, it includes clothing, hats, signs, mugs and more. All feature the cartoon character which was created in the 1930s and has turned into an icon.
Destination for Vintage and Secondhand Clothing
Runstrom opened the original WearForward storefront in October 2020 along with friend and co-owner Toria Morris. Launching a brick-and-mortar store in the middle of a global pandemic might sound daunting, but the two say they received overwhelming support from the Lowell community.
In its early days, many shoppers were from Lowell, but as word of the store spread, WearForward has become a destination for people from Grand Rapids and elsewhere in the region. The store has also developed a reputation as being a good place to consign clothing and other goods.
“We had one consigner drive up from Indiana,” Morris says. “And Ohio,” Runstrom adds.
While consigners originally had to make an appointment to have their items evaluated for acceptance, Runstrom and Morris says walk-ins are welcome now. Consigners receive 30% of the sale price unless they would like store credit, in which case they will receive 50%.
Shopping and Selling at WearForward
WearForward strives to be size inclusive and carries items ranging from XS to 4XL, although inventory can vary depending on what is consigned at any given time.
“Brand is not as important to us as style,” Runstrom says. WearForward is looking for trendy items that are of good quality. The store is focused more on casual clothing rather than professional or business attire.
As for who shops at the store, Morris says they tend to pull in a younger crowd although their customers range from high school age to those in their 50s and 60s. However, 20 to 35-year-olds make up the majority of shoppers.
That’s in line with the findings of eBay’s 2021 Recommerce Report which found that 80% of Gen Z and 78% of millennials had purchased pre-owned items in the past 12 months. While affordability is the No. 1 reason people buy secondhand items, according to the report, more than a third of survey respondents also cited sustainability benefits as why they choose pre-owned over new items.
Sustainability is part of the culture at WearForward as well with the company striving to be zero waste and using compostable tags that are embedded with wildflower seeds.