By Ashley Smith
To break the monotony of clothing stores across Belmont Avenue, Villa, a new clothing and shoe store across from Wal-Mart, had its grand opening Oct. 3-5. What separates this store from others is that it strives to be an active part of its community.
Jerome Justice, the store manager of Villa, said that a unique aspect of this store is its community involvement.
“We just want to give back to the community; we’re partnering with PNC and we’re going to do a financial seminar for high school kids, to help them get their priorities,” Justice said. “To not just want to buy every release that comes out, but to save a little. There’s other necessities that need to be bought as well.”
The financial seminar is going to take place at Villa, and currently a date is not set, but will probably occur after the holidays. There is not another Villa within 60 miles of Belmont Avenue.
The store carries brands such as Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Converse, New Balance, Puma and Timberland. Justice said the store used to be a Sneaker Villa before the name was changed.
“It is a majority of shoes, because before they knocked off Villa it used to be called Sneaker Villa, but then when it went corporate it just became Villa,” Justice said.
Despite the short time it has been in the area, the store is already planning on making an impact in the community by setting up fundraisers for local schools in the area.
“We like to have different fundraisers for the community, and for some of our locations for back-to-school we’ll have book bag giveaways or team up with a local barber and give the kids haircuts for back to school and different things,” Justice said.
Justice said that the store opened on Belmont because they saw it as a place to stand out, and get community involvement.
“That’s the main reason they didn’t choose to go to the Boardman area, because they wanted to be community involved and have their own storefront, not be a part of a mall,” Justice said. “They wanted to be niched into a community as much as possible.”
Darian Bell, the assistant manager of Villa, said this community involvement includes the employees.
“Most of our staff is YSU students. We just want to give to people that are doing something, and we work around the student’s schedules,” Bell said.
Another way that Villa gives back to its community is by promoting up-and-coming musical and graphic design artists. After going through corporate, musicians can have their music video streamed on the TV in the store, and graphic designers have a similar opportunity to sell their line at the Villa.
“We cut them a check, and then we sell their products. It all depends on how inspired and motivated they are to getting their line out there,” Bell said. “If you’re dedicated and really want your line out there, I think you’re going to get the opportunity.”
Students, whether they are interested in graphic design or music, are eligible for a 20 percent discount. Any student who shows a proper ID on Thursdays can receive a 20 percent discount, no matter what university they are attending. Younger students can receive this same discount if they present a progress report.
Bell said that Villa also projects a more personal atmosphere.
“It’s a laid-back environment. A different feel from all the other stores in like the Southern Park mall,” Bell said. “It’s definitely more personal and we try to build a better repertoire with the customer. It’s definitely more of an urban setup.”
Justice said that the store has the potential to draw in customers and will continue to grow in later years.
“I have a lot of hope for it. I think it will do good — it’s something different and I think it will bring a little flavor to a much needed area with a lot of potential. Hopefully, within a year or so we’ll open up a second location — that’s what one of my goals is,” Justice said. “I want to just grow with the company. It’s flourishing and the potential is just, you hold the key to your success.”
He added that the store would have a Black Friday sale.
Villa’s hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.