You have to have holes in your head to buy clothing with holes in it, right?
Wrong.While most people throw away damaged clothing, a new Salt Lake company makes big bucks from apparel with dollar-sized holes.
The unusual company is the creation of a mother and her five daughters, who have turned fun times together into profitable ones.
"My daughters and I went out to lunch together a lot - two or three times a week," said Sharlene Wright. "My husband suggested that if we were going to be together that much, we should do something constructive."
What resulted was a quaint, hole-in-the wall boutique at 136 E. 48th South. The shop is called "Fashion Alternative" - and gives customers just that.
The store's shelves and racks are full of name brand attire sold by top Salt Lake retailers. Slacks, shirts, dresses and sweaters by Brittania, Generra, Union Bay, Reunion, Bench, Heet, Shah Safari and J. Christopher are in stock.
At some stores, a Generra sweater may sell for up to $115. At Fashion Alternative, it's $20, said Laurie Rasmussen, Wright's daughter.
So what's the catch? Here it is: The items have been dramatically reduced in price because they are slightly damaged. In fact, most have a hole deliberately punched in an obvious spot.
There's a simple explanation: Fashion Alternative's clothes are all samples.
To avoid paying U.S. customs, clothing manufacturers in Hong Kong and Korea damage the clothes before shipping them to America. At clothing marts in Manhattan and Los Angeles, the samples are displayed to enable department store buyers to order next season's lines.
The last day of mart, the samples are sold to the general public. The ones with holes are snatched up by the Wrights for sale in Murray.
But don't fret. Customers leave the local company holeless.
The holes are creatively covered by labels, yokes and seams. Holes in sweaters are rewoven.
"I have always done some sewing, but not a lot," said Sharlene Wright, the boutique's official repair woman. "But I am not good at finishing work necessary to make the article look really nice.
"On the samples everything is done; all I have to do is take care of the hole. It has given me an opportunity to be creative."
Wright's fashion-conscious daughters - J'Ann Kay, Julie Watts, Lisa Mitchell, Laurie Rasmussen and Sandy Wright - have all worked at retail clothing stores. They display and sell the clothing.
Sandy, an accounting major at Westminster College, also keeps the books.
It's truly a wholly owned company.
"It has been fun to work with the girls; it has bought us a lot closer," Sharlene Wright said. "Like any business, it doesn't run all smoothly; we've had problems to iron out. But overall it has been good for the family."
For the time being, retailing holey clothes is only a part-time venture for the Wrights.
In addition, each of the women have full-time careers. J'Ann, a recent graduate of the University of Phoenix, is a secretary for O.C. Tanner. Besides being a dental assistant, Julie is attending Intermountain Court Recording School.
Laurie works for Dr. Kim C. Bertin, an orthopedic surgeon at LDS Hospital, and Lisa is a surgical technician in the new surgical center at Cottonwood Hospital Medical Center. She is also going to school to become a registered nurse.
In addition to attending classes at Westminster, Sandy works for a group of anesthesiologists.
Like Sharlene Wright, four of the five women are also homemakers; three are mothers.
Thus, Fashion Alternative is opened only three days a week: Wednesday and Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.