Diva Central brings big-city style to tiny Clarks Grove
STYLING — Anna and Marianna Allshouse and Maria Siwiec welcome you to check out Diva Central in Clarks Grove, which offers big-city style and small-town prices. (Star Eagle photo by Rachel Rietsema)
By RACHEL RIETSEMA
Anna Allshouse and her mother Maria Siwiec invite shoppers of all ages to their new clothing store in Clarks Grove.
Yes, you heard correctly. Diva Central carries fashion styles across the board.
“We are friendly, have different styles that you can’t find at Shopko, Herberger’s or Wal-Mart,” Allshouse said. “We also have a little bit of men’s clothing available.”
Future shoppers will also encounter a very unique vibe once inside this lively decorated store.
“If we don’t have something, we ask people what styles they like,” Allshouse said. “Then, I look at my vendors and see if I can match their style. We have done that for a couple customers already.”
For example, Allshouse has contacted vendors from across the United States to find halter tops, bling-filled flip flops and funky outfits for night events.
“On occasion, people come in and give us ideas and say, ‘Hey, try locating so-and-so from this state and see if you can hook up with their vender,’” she said.
Basically, any positive suggestions from customers are welcomed with open arms. Because as these two see it, Clarks Grove really could use a staple like this.
“When I lived in the Twin Cities, I took my kids out to a free festival or went shopping,” Allshouse said. “It didn’t matter if we spent money or not.”
They both hope that by providing one-of-a-kind apparel, customers can save on gas money.
“Instead of people driving to Rochester and Mankato, come here and check us out first,” she said. “Our hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, we are closed.”
Visitors can also expect to find cute clothing and not experience any sticker shock. In fact, they might even be astonished at how low the prices are.
“We are trying to be as low as we can be with today’s economy,” she said.
In a year or so, they are hoping this bold move will pave the way for an expansion and possibly even a catalog.
“You have to start somewhere and move your way up,” she said. “Some might say opening a business here is very risky, but we bought the building straight-out, so we are lucky that we don’t have mortgage payments.”
In other words, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
“This building is 28,000 feet, so in the future, we are also hoping to get a café open,” she said. “If my sister comes here, we are thinking about a nail salon. We also talked about laser tag for the kids.”
One of these years, she and Siwiec are hoping to host a haunted house for Halloween too. But, in the meantime, Diva Central will remain her main focus.
“My mom and I love fashion and clothes,” she said. “So when my mom moved up here from Florida three months ago, she said, ‘Let’s open a clothes store.’”
Actually, Siwiec’s knowledge of the business world is quite vast. In Florida, she owned a restaurant and deli.
“I remember my mom cooking a whole feast for my birthday parties at the restaurant,” she said. “When I got older, I helped run the deli and, after graduating from high school, I ran it when they went to Chicago to get their shipment.”
Years later, she also fills her schedule with non-fashion-related tasks.
“I’m in law enforcement, so I transport inmates,” she said. “I also work on-call in Hayward at a group home.”
Never fear though, her and Siwiec’s commitment to Diva Central and Clarks Grove’s welfare are on the top of their priority lists.
“Personally, when I go shopping, I want something nice but also cheap and affordable,” she said. “That’s what you will find here.”