After spending a few years in San Diego, Clinton Collins felt something was missing in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. There was no reasonably priced, high-quality furniture home goods store to be found.
Collins took it upon himself to create one. Nearly seven years ago, Home and Closet opened for business with the mission of selling high-end, vintage home goods and clothing at a reasonable price.
Home and Closet’s original location was on 33rd and B streets, but two years ago it moved to its current location at 4725 Prescott Ave. With small boutiques and businesses in the area, the new location fit the friendly and welcoming concept and environment the store was striving for, according to Collins.
“The spot opened up and there are a lot of small businesses here,” he said. “There’s The Mill and other businesses that really complement ours, and so we thought it was a better fit for us.”
Since Home and Closet is located in a college town, students contribute a lot to the store. Not only do students play a part as the target market, but there are also several students who have been or are currently employed at Home and Closet.
Home and Closet strives for engagement with the community, particularly students. One way the store attempts to achieve this is by representing local artists, including student artists.
“We represent local artists and a lot of them attend the university. Hannah Demma is one,” Collins said. “With artists, we'll carry their work, and then they'll get a portion of the proceeds.”
A majority of the profits go back to the artists, as Home and Closet only takes 30%. Home and Closet typically reaches out to artists such as Demma, a graduate student in printmaking at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Demma has been working with Home and Closet since 2016, when she was an undergraduate taking beginning painting classes.
“I had done a master copy painting of a piece by a contemporary painter I admire, Hope Gangloff,” Demma said. “Clinton reached out because he wanted to purchase my master copy to keep for the shop collection to display with his furniture.”
After the first purchase, Collins stayed connected with Demma on Instagram and in 2017, asked if she was interested in displaying and selling her work at Home and Closet. Demma was eager to show her work on a regular basis and readily accepted the offer.
Since then, Demma has successfully sold several pieces Collins has displayed in the store. According to Demma, working with Home and Closet has been like a dream. Collins is supportive and takes any opportunity to help promote her work. For example, Collins tags Demma when her pieces appear in any of Home and Closet’s photos on social media, which brings more attention to her work and results in more sales.
“It feels good to have someone always supporting me in the production of new work, and [Collins is] a great salesman,” Demma said. “As an artist, that is always an awkward part of the job, so to have someone doing the uncomfortable business of handling sales is something I highly value.”
Collins’s priority as both a salesman and the owner of the store is to be friendly, accessible and affordable. Everything sold in the store is either vintage or locally made. According to Collins, in order for the store to sell high-quality products for a reasonable price, they spend a lot of time sourcing the products, which means doing extensive research to ensure the store and the customers get the best deal possible.
“We put more time into it,” he said. “Instead of getting a bunch of lesser quality items that are more easily accessible, we take our time and look through the better quality items that we can provide at a reasonable price.”
Over the years, Home and Closet has had to adapt with the rest of the world, which included expanding online and becoming more accessible. Home and Closet has offered home delivery since the beginning, but three years ago, the Home and Closet website sparked the opportunity for online purchases.
“Retail is very difficult, so many people purchase online now. So what we've done is we've taken our products and put them online as well,” Collins said. “We've adapted to that by building out our website and making sure we're competitive in that way.”
Home and Closet hopes to continue to increase its online presence in the future and interact with the community more often. The store has weekly sales on Saturdays, for students to get 20% off clothing and accessories, and Sundays, for all customers to get 15% off all furniture.
“At other places, you can get very cool, old stuff that is very expensive,” Collins said. “We don't really do that. It's mostly just cool, affordable, good looking stuff here.”
This article was originally published in the October 2019 edition of The DN.