Hello! We’re Ally & Amanda— your go-to blogging duo for all things Knoxville business. Every month, we brunch with a local boss who’s killin’ it in our community. They share their unique insight with us, and we share it with whoever wants to know! Whether you’re looking for some mid-week motivation or just a quick, insightful read, we’ve got the tales of trials and triumphs you’re looking for.
February is the month of love, so it was only natural that we brunch with Beth Boline, owner of one of Knoxville’s most-loved clothing stores. If you’re a Knox native who’s even slightly interested in fashion, you’ve probably heard of Planet Xchange. This trendy resale store is taking the city by storm as a local favorite for affordable, name-brand clothing. Never been? Keep reading to find out what you’re missing!
Tell us a little bit about the “buy, trade, sell” concept behind Planet Xchange.
“Sure! So, people bring in items every day. We probably look at a couple thousand things a day, from clothing to shoes and bags and much more. We have buyers go through the items and choose what they feel will sell in the store, then we pay cash on the spot for it. We even give the customer incentive to then spend that money in our store by offering a higher percentage in trade value. Basically, the concept is this: we get all our inventory directly through the public. If you bring us something we feel will sell, we pay you for it and then put the item out for sale that same day.”
What inspired you to open a resale store over a traditional retail store?
“Honestly, I never once considered opening a retail store,” Beth admits. “I enjoy the business side of a resale concept too much. I like coming up with new ways to make the store more efficient. It gives me constant opportunities to get creative. I also don’t hate owning a debt-free business,” she laughs. “Since I pay cash on the spot for items people bring in, I never owe anyone anything. It’s less to keep track of and a lot more enjoyable than owning a consignment or retail store.”
What’s it like owning a business in Knoxville?
“Well, it’s great because I also happen to live here, so the commute’s a breeze!” she jokes. “But seriously, I moved here from Phoenix in ’95 because me and my girlfriend at the time were tired of being in big cities. When we broke up, I thought ‘there’s nothing here for me, so I guess I’ll go back to Phoenix.’ But while I was here, I couldn’t help but notice there wasn’t a resale store like the one I loved shopping at back in Phoenix, so then I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to roll the dice and open one.’ I was still on the plane when I drew out the first logo concept for Planet Xchange on an air-sick bag. I knew Knoxville needed a store like this, so it just kind of worked out from there.”
Any upcoming plans for the store that you can share?
“Actually, there is,” she hints. “Over the years, a lot of people have brought in bags of clothes, and sometimes we only take a few items from each one. As a service to them, we can take care of donating the rest so they don’t have to, but it actually costs me money to do that. I have to pay my employees to load everything into my car and then I drive around town distributing the items, which takes time.
So, what I’ve decided to do is take those donations, put them in one location, and split the proceeds with a charity. In the coming months, I’ll be aligning myself with a charity and opening a new concept called ‘Clothing by the Pound’. I’ve already bought the building in Etowah, Tennessee (about an hour or so from Knoxville). With this concept, I’ll be able to contribute a percentage back to an important cause every month. It’s exciting!”
Can you tell us something about yourself that your customers may be surprised to learn?
“This time last year on Valentine’s Day, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she courageously shares. “People will probably be surprised to learn that because, up until now, I’ve made a conscious choice not to share it on social media. Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t care who knows, I only care who I share it with. And it’s my choice to share it with you all now. The good news is, I no longer have it. In fact, the charity I’ll be aligning myself with for the new concept I told you about has a lot to do with early screening. I want to be an advocate for breast cancer awareness. I want to hold others, and myself, accountable so that they prioritize screenings. You never know, it could save lives.”
We have to know… what’s one fashion trend you absolutely love?
“I love authenticity. I know that’s not really a trend, but I just love when people wear things that bring out their authentic self. What’s one trend you wish would disappear forever? Hmm, I don’t really think there is one. Because even if I wouldn’t wear something, if someone else can pull it off and be themselves in it, then it should stay. The only one I really don’t like is when people put flowery headbands on their babies. Those poor babies don’t have a choice, so that’s not being authentic!” she jokes.