BG Loft offers fashions for girls 9 to 90

Published 9:10 am Monday, September 21, 2009

Students at Albert Lea High School may want to pay close attention to the outfits worn by Paige and Erin Brick. They may be able to buy a similar ensemble at the BG Loft.

BG Loft stands for Brick Girls’ Loft, a store opened by Erin and Paige at the beginning of the summer in the loft at the back of Brick Furniture in Albert Lea. The store is owned by their parents, John and Kari.  

One of the girls’ best advertising methods is sporting the clothing when they’re out and about. The girls said people will ask them — or their customers — where they got an outfit, and that generates interest in the store. The Brick girls do a lot of their shopping at the loft now: “We wear the clothes,” said Paige, a sophomore at the high school.

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“I love all the clothes because we pick them out, but it’s also really good advertising,” added Erin, a senior at the high school.

The girls sell clothing, jewelry and other accessories. There’s also a baby section that sells cribs, some children’s toys and blankets sewn by Kari.

The idea stems from the Brick girls’ love of fashion and shopping. Kari said the two have been talking about similar ideas for years.

“You guys have had this plan since you were 2 and 4,” she said to her daughters.

Wearing their clothing around town is not the girls’ only form of advertising. Erin used Facebook to get the word out when the store opened. Kari said the BG Loft nearly sold out when they had their open house. She continues to communicate with friends through the site to let people know when they have new clothing.

The BG Loft has also had ads in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Freeborn County Shopper, as the girls said they attached one of their ads to a Brick Furniture advertisement.

One of the two girls worked almost every day over the summer, but each have more commitments now with school. When the girls aren’t working, the BG Loft is still open. The BG Loft has the same hours as Brick Furniture, and the girls’ parents, Kari and John, operate the store when the girls aren’t there.

Much of the clothing is ordered from venders in Los Angeles. Most of the ordering is done through Web sites, but they do travel to markets in the Twin Cities. If the girls get good grades, their mom will take them to an apparel market in Chicago this fall.

“We’re just like, we’ll get that, that, that. Just like shopping. Only you’re shopping for a store now, not just us,” Erin said.

Erin, 17, can be an official buyer at the markets, but Paige, 15, is still too young and she attends as a guest.

The Brick girls have spent time at Brick Furniture since they were infants, but Kari said selling clothing is more fun than selling furniture. The BG Loft isn’t all about fun, as it gives the girls a chance to learn about running a business.

“We just thought we’d introduce them to the business aspect: ordering, paying the invoices. It’s very similar to furniture actually — following the fashions, the colors. It kind of goes hand in hand,” Kari said.

Buying and ordering the clothes isn’t all that goes into it, as the girls try to organize their apparel to encourage sales.

“We like to plan outfits together, so over there we have our jewelry on our clothes. People see that and then they’ll buy both,” Erin said.

The girls have learned a lot about the business aspect of it, and they said they’re both more knowledgeable than when they started.

“You can’t just get what you like, you have to get what will sell, also,” Erin said.

When she’s buying for the store, Erin said she first thinks about whether she’d wear an outfit and look good in it, but she also thinks about how it would look on people with different body types.

The BG Loft’s customer is about age 14 and older, Kari said. However, the store is not designed strictly for teens, as a woman in her 90s bought a gray vest, Erin said.

Kari and John don’t charge the girls rent, and Kari joked there are many “fringe benefits.”

“We get paid in clothes,” Erin joked.

One of those benefits is the help of their parents, who run the BG Loft when the girls are at school or not at the store. Paige and Erin wrap the clothes the same way when a customer buys an item, but Erin said John doesn’t typically wrap the items.

“My dad doesn’t like it if all of us are gone,” Erin said.

“He does furniture, not women’s clothing,” Kari added.

The girls’ have an 11-year-old brother, Max, but he’s not involved in the business.

“The boys don’t venture up here very often,” Kari said.

Another fringe benefit has to do with how the Brick girls display their apparel. Clothing and jewelry aren’t the only thing for sale in the BG Loft. All the furniture is for sale too. Some of the clothing is displayed hanging in a dresser with some clothes hanging on the open doors of the dresser. Other clothes hang from coat racks. The jewelry is displayed on tables and shelves.

Aside from the furniture, there are artificial flowers on the tables and mirrors and pictures on the wall that are also for sale.

“Their props are free, too,” Kari said.

A chance for customers to see the furniture in use as part of the displays is beneficial to furniture sales. Some customers have told them they wouldn’t have thought to make a display like the ones seen.