By JEN CARDINES
Kristen’s Kloset held its 2017 Grand Opening last weekend to kick-off the prom season. The Southington storefront was filled with racks of shoes, accessories, and over 500 new and gently used gowns.
Kristen’s Kloset is a Southington Youth Services sponsored program to help minimize the expenses that come with attending the prom. It has been operating for 11 years.
The annual pop-up shop was created to honor the memory of Kristen Warner, a 13-year-old honor student and gymnast, after her untimely death in a car accident on Queen Street in 2004. Her family and friends founded the program to serve students who may be dealing with financial or other circumstances that would prevent them from attending the social rite-of-passage.
This year’s location is once again at 722 West Street in Plaza West.
“We are happy to be there again,” SYS director Christina Simms said. “It’s nice to be familiar with the location for consistency purposes.”
Simms is serving in her first year as SYS director following the retirement of Sue Saucier, but she is no stranger to Kristen’s Kloset. When the program first started, Simms was working with SYS through her position at the Southington YMCA.
“To see how far it has grown is impressive,” Simms said. “It’s a full operation with many volunteers.”
Although the gowns and accessories are available to girls in neighboring towns, the tuxedo service is only available to local males.
All of the items in Kristen’s Kloset were donated by individuals, businesses, and organizations. Any high school student, not limited to Southington, is welcome to utilize the shop, but a school ID is required. Shoppers are asked to donate an amount of no more than $25 dollars and those with financial hardships are offered their gowns at no cost.
Donations are always welcomed, and there is currently a need for plus-size dresses.
The 2017 season hours are Thursdays from 2:30 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. Sunday hours will only run through April 9. Kristen’s Kloset will be open until May 6.
Southington proms are coming quickly. The junior prom is scheduled for Saturday, April 29. Senior prom is scheduled for Saturday, May 20.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.