CR Music Exchange makes way for C.B.C.B.’s

College students can head straight to Wooster Street to get name-brand clothes, shoes and jewelry that fit their punk rock or hip hop style without traveling up I-75 to go to the Toledo malls.

C.B.C.B’s Apparel Co. had its grand opening last Friday, in which it stayed opened to 1 a.m. with people buying everything from casual dresses to retro outfits after filling in the space of the former CR Music Exchange store.

This is not an average clothing store – it has its own flavor, combining New York City’s fashion style with local artists’ talent.

Owner Conell Benton has worked on the clothing line Sean John and was the shop manager in the Manhattan and Brooklyn locations at Macy’s for a year.

Benton was also a field representative for the clothing line Phat Farm in the Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey areas, and later became the field representative for the Midwest in areas such as Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

“Being in the environment inspired me to go out and work hard to get my own store because I want to be a trend-setter,” Benton said.

Two years ago he had the idea of having his own store with retro and vintage clothing.

“I had the opportunity and the time was just right for me to get a store in a college town,” he said. “Also, I have a huge passion for college towns because there is new, young and undiscovered talent in these kinds of towns.”

C.B.C.B’s Apparel Co. is not just bringing a new sense of flavor for clothes, but is also fulfilling the goal of Earlene Kilpatrick, director of Main Street BG, by giving people the opportunity to shop locally.

“We always encourage people to shop locally and dine locally because we take pride in recruiting what the consumers want,” Kilpatrick said. “And we are excited about their product line and their entrepreneurial spirit.”

Benton has unique products in his store ranging from clothing to handmade jewelry.

“I travel all over, such as the east coast and unique shops in Columbus to get different clothing pieces to add to the store,” he said.

Clothing brands in the store include True Religion, Diesel, Seven and Baby Phat; shoe brands include BCBG, Jessica Simpson, JLo, Coach, Guess and Adidas; and purse brands include Dooney and Burke and Coach.

“The store is multicultural, a trend-setter, like Kanye West and Andre 3000 or Fergie and Gwen Stefani, how they mix chic with old school and make it their style,” Benton said.

One consumer, Elona Wameyo, said she is impressed with the variety and quality of the store.

“When I stopped in last week I was amazed because I have different styles, all depending on my mood and the store offers all my styles I like, and now I don’t have to wait to go home and shop anymore,” Wameyo said. “It has the unique jewelry I like because it’s original and stylish shoes that wrap around your ankles.”

But Benton is trying to give a chance for others in the community, such as artists and models, to have an outlet in his store.

“It is so many people who have talent but don’t have an outlet, so I am giving them a chance to have their items in my store,” he said. “My goal for the store is to maintain originality and connecting with the community because it is a way for me to give back; I just have always had a heart for humanity.”

In the store are paintings, photographs and jewelry made by city locals.

One piece of artwork, in the middle of the store, was given to Benton by the owner of Madhatter, the former music store across the street from C.B.C.B’s Apparel Co.

“I wanted to buy some things from them before they closed, but he was sold out, but he still had old posters left and I wanted to buy it from him because that store was like a staple of the community,” Conell said. “I just wanted to keep some of what the store offered to the community alive, so he gave me some artwork.”

Also, in the store is a handmade wooden table made by a local artist named Dinu. Dinu’s dad taught him the craft, but died a year ago and he just stopped designing.

“I heard about his talent and he is a pretty cool guy and told me he would make a table for me, after not picking up wood in a year,” he said. “So we will be having more of his work featured in the store, especially when the Black Swamp Arts Festival comes.”

Another unique characteristic about the store is its open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until people stop coming.

“The latest we have stayed opened is like 1 a.m.,” he said. “I remember a girl knocked on the door to come in around 1 a.m. because she needed a dress, and I let her in and when she left the store, she had the dress on and her outfit she wore into the store in the bag.”

Benton plans to have a couch with an espresso machine and wireless Internet so people can just come into the store, sit down and talk.

And at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 at Howards, C.B.C.B’s Apparel Co. will have a “Welcome to BG” event, along with a concert featuring Chavar Dontae.