When it snows, not everything goes

You know you live in Columbia when you bring sunglasses, an umbrella and a ski cap to class. You just never know what the weather will be like when you leave.

Now that the winter months are approaching (or should be because it is November), clothing stores in Columbia are re-shelving and rearranging to prepare for the supposedly approaching cold front.

Each store in Columbia has its own method of preparing for the change of weather, whether a boutique or a consignment shop. Blackberry Exchange, at 16 S. Ninth St., features spinning racks of eccentric sweaters in its displays. Racks full of winter coats for as low as $40 are also placed toward the front of the shop. Owner Laura Wilson said the displays are changed according to the season.

"We play it by ear," Wilson said. "We consider whether or not it's been cold yet. But the cooler weather bursts we've been having speed up the momentum to change the displays."

My Sister's Circus, located at 1110 E. Broadway, features merchandise characteristic of the season. The store often sees an increase in sales after its fashion event. Owner Stella Hardknock said this year's event would take place this weekend at the Midway Expo Center.

"It will feature anything that sparkles," Hardknock said. "We'll have scarves and other winter items. They come from Canada and also New York and L.A."

At Swank Boutique, 921 E. Broadway, unique, upscale items fill the racks to complete the dressy, swanky style in the store. The store has a predominance of dresses displayed. Employee Laura Ryback said the store's transition in featured clothing is slower, so certain types of items are available longer.

"We won't go straight from thin cotton to chunky sweaters," Ryback said. "But we can't keep heavier items available in the summer since it gets so hot here."

Swank employee Hannah Hessler said traffic inside the store often increases during the holiday season, despite the cold weather.

"There aren't as many people over the summer, so there's a decrease in traffic then," Hessler said.

Absolute Vintage, just a short walk away from Swank at 923 E. Broadway, brings winter clothes out right after Halloween. Employee Colleen Blake said warmer clothes are put out then because once Halloween is over, people start to think about Christmas.

"We do lots of storing, so we'll put the warmer items away," Blake said. "But we do have sale items available on the floor throughout the year."

Right now, Absolute Vintage features colorful, fuzzy holiday sweaters and dresses with shoulder pads -- possibly the same ones worn by MU students to formals in the '80s. Blake said the unique style offered keeps customers returning.

"People are looking for unique pieces," she said. "During the holiday season, people are looking for Christmas jewelry and party dresses. Also, some of the knickknacks make good gifts. But the supply of our inventory is the owner's secret."

Some stores will keep basic items available for purchase despite the unexpected cold chills or warm spurts. Wilson said Blackberry Exchange keeps items that can be layered on display continuously.

"T-shirts are available year round," she said. "Also shorts, since girls wear tights underneath them now. But anything linen or pastel is put away for the season."

For My Sister's Circus, winter is the most wonderful time of the year. The Santa-themed cups and plates proudly displayed in the store can attest to that. Employee Brooke Asmussen said after the fashion show, sales increase to make the winter season the most profitable.

"The holiday season is the best because people are buying gifts for others," Asmussen said.

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