ROCHELLE — During the week it celebrated its one-year anniversary of operation, Midwestern Clothing Company announced plans to open a second location in Byron later this month.
The Rochelle boutique opened a location downtown earlier this year and began last year as an online-only clothing retailer. The local owners, Haley and Kelsey Kersten and Alyssa Fortson, are excited to expand into a new community at 130 W. 2nd St. in Byron on Oct. 16.
The move will allow all three owners to come on board with the business full-time.
“I think that’s the biggest benefit,” Haley said. “Kelsey quit her job and Alyssa quit her side job. The three of us now can be fully invested. It will provide more opportunity for us to expand and do more things. Now we have two communities we can cater to."
Fortson said the location in Byron is connected to a nutrition club and a salon that could make for more foot traffic. It will be Byron’s only clothing boutique, she said. The items offered at the Byron location will mirror MCC’s Rochelle shop.
The second location was not planned by the Kerstens and Fortson and the opportunity came unexpectedly when the owner of the Byron building, who is from Rochelle, approached them.
“We already knew them and they had some space,” Haley said. “We crunched numbers a million times and on paper, it works. So we thought we might as well."
The trio called their expansion into Byron “terrifying,” “scary” and “nerve racking.” But they’ve taken leaps before.
“It's worth the leap,” Haley said. “That's what I keep saying. This whole business, none of it went how we planned for it to go from the start to now. If we just keep rolling with it while it's doing great, we'll be OK.”
Upon starting MCC as an online boutique, the owners anticipated trying to open their first storefront in Jan. 2022. Kelsey called the past year “the fastest year ever.” Fortson said running the Rochelle store has been crazy.
“But I feel like it just flows,” Fortson said. “It just works.”
MCC’s online sales have seen it ship to “a lot” of states, Haley said. It sees a lot of traffic in the store, but online sales have been good and have “picked up.”
The Kerstens and Fortsons said they’re grateful to Rochelle for supporting them enough to expand and said it will always be home for the business. They’re excited to jump and board with another community that will allow all three of them to be invested in the business. The downtown Rochelle location will still be MCC’s flagship store.
“It's insane,” Haley said. “I was looking for a part-time job and this really quickly turned into a full-time plus job for all of us. We're here all the time. It's really rewarding. That's the biggest thing. Everything we do at this business is so rewarding. Because it's ours.”