Expanded company offers more than school uniforms

By Andrew Miller
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Parents looking for school uniforms have been turning to the School Closet & School Days stores for nearly three decades.

Owner Kay Butsko said while the business has evolved, it remains grounded in what she believes are its keys to success: service, quality products and employees.

“We opened our doors selling the highest-quality school uniforms we could, because this isn’t a shirt or pants you’re going to wear just once a week; the kids wear them hard, daily,” Butsko said.

“You always have to change your business to stay with the times, your marketing and technology, but one thing stays the same: You have to have a good product and really good service.”

Those quality products and focus on service paid off in a recent poll.

“We won best school uniform store in central Ohio in the Columbus Parent reader poll, and I told my employees that this award is really for them, because we’ve been blessed with amazing employees,” Butsko said.

The family-owned and -operated company currently has 13 employees at three locations: 2497 E. Main St. in Bexley, 73 N. Stygler Road in Gahana, and 4507 N. High St. in Clintonville.

“We opened our first store in Bexley,” she said. “We eventually outgrew that, so we’re now in our second location in Bexley and we have a location in Clintonville and another in Gahanna. We also ship to customers around the country through our website.”

As a longtime business customer of Key Bank, the business first launched its online store as a part of a Key Bank test group.

“About 15 years ago, during the first surge in online shopping, Key offered us a software package to help build our website and sales and grow our online presence,” Butsko said. “Eventually, we outgrew that, but we were fortunate to get that start.”

The business has grown beyond just school uniforms. Corporate and organization-branded clothing and merchandise is a growing component of the business, according to Butsko.

“When we opened, we started as just school uniforms, but pretty quickly, parents began asking if we could do clothes for their businesses,” she said. “More and more companies are branding themselves with their employees. We’re also doing a lot of choirs across the country.”

Although the Internet has allowed School Closet & School Days to sell to a more global market, as a local business owner, Butsko said she believes it is important to support the local communities.

“We care about the community because we want it to survive and thrive, because we live here. If the community thrives, so can the business,” Butsko said. “If you look at the local businesses that have been around -- and we’re one of the oldest around in Bexley --  most of them are family-owned and are very much a part of the community.”

For more information about the School Closet & School Days stores, visit www.schoolcloset.com.

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