Vibrant! That’s the first word that comes to mind when you enter Nitro, a women’s clothing store at the corner of Lewis and Main Street in downtown Frankfort. The clothes, the accessories, the décor – everything is bright and inviting.
I recently had a chance to visit with Frankfort native Alice Schwartz, who has been a salesperson at the store since February of 2013. But she’s not your ordinary clothing store salesperson.
For thirty-two years she worked at Magee’s, the bakery she owned with her husband Charles. Shortly after they had sold the bakery Schwartz came into Nitro to shop. Owner Sherrie Goebel approached her and said, “Would you like to come to work for me? “
“I’m a people person. Sitting at home is not my thing,” observes Schwartz, who was glad to get the offer. “She needed me and I needed her.”
But Schwartz was not sure her experience at the bakery was going to translate to a clothing store. “Selling donuts is a little bit different than selling clothes. When I started here I told Sherrie I’m not a pushy person. The donuts sold themselves.”
“Don’t be pushy here,” Goebel replied.
As it turns out all Alice has needed to do is be herself. “I enjoy making customers happy when they’re looking for a special outfit for something. We have a great clientele,” says Schwartz who told me that people leave the store pleased with what they’ve purchased. “There are lots of regulars who come in once or twice a week.”
That clientele has been expanding of late, due in large part to Nitro’s use of social media. Kyle Goebel, Sherrie’s son who helps run the business, told me that people are finding out about the store on Facebook. “A lot of them say ‘I didn’t even know you were here.’” Turning to Schwartz he asked, “How many people say that?”
"About three-quarters of them,” she replied. “We’re reaching a new group I’ve never seen before. It’s wonderful!”
Kyle credits his mom saying that she has a philosophy. “You’ve got to treat it like an island and be a draw.”
He says that business is strong. “We’ve seen lots of improvement in the last two years. “Downtown Frankfort is cool. We’re doing more events so people can come downtown, socialize and have fun.”
When I asked Schwartz to describe the style of clothes in the store she kidded, “Ask me about a donut.” She then went on to explain that it’s Sherri’s style that makes it all work. “She buys what she would wear. That’s the secret to her success. Whatever Sherrie has on that day I make sure we have extra – ‘cause we’re going to sell out!”
In addition to the main clothing area the store has two other distinctive sections. One is the upstairs ‘Sale Studio’ where everything is 70% off.
But the one that I found of particular interest was the UK/U of L room. “Customers say we have the best selection of Kentucky things,” Schwartz told me. Taking a look around it’s easy to believe people feel that way. Any female fan of UK or Louisville needs to check this out for herself.
And it’s not just college athletics. Nitro gets into the Derby Spirit too. “This year Sherrie brought in two hundred Derby hats and fascinators. We have only a very few left.”
There was one final surprise during my visit and that was finding out that Nitro is open Sunday from 12 to 5. “We’ve done that for about a year now and it’s been very successful. There’s a lot of parking available on Sunday,” noted Schwartz with a smile.
“Downtown Frankfort is lucky to have Sherrie and Nitro. It’s a beautiful store to work in.”