Students Create Clothing Business Amid Pandemic


Carter Van Buskirk

Alex Hohlen, Co-Founder of Shop Prep STL, holds a limited edition Nike shoe in his basement headquarters.

By Carter Van Buskirk, Marquette High School

With the emergence of COVID-19, many students have had extra time to pursue other hobbies and interests. For two students, the spare time provoked a jump start to entrepreneurship and business experience.

Alex Hohlen, junior, and Christian Springer, junior, are the co-founders of Shop Prep STL. The company, operating out of Hohlen’s basement, resells high-end clothing products at a more affordable price.

Hohlen describes Shop Prep STL as an upscale Plato’s Closet, a retail store that sells similar clothing products. Essentially, Hohlen said they take lightly used name brand clothes such as Lululemon, Patagonia and Chubbies and sell them for under regular prices.

“We started back in May 2020,” Hohlen said. “The inspiration really was just the fact that I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life. I’m always finding things to resell. Once again, I saw clothes were trending, so I figured out a way to sell them for cheap and buy them for even cheaper.”

Prior to Shop Prep STL, Hohlen had been involved in buying and selling shoes on websites such as Facebook and Ebay. He credits these early efforts to building his knowledge of business and entrepreneurship.

Today, with Shop Prep STL, Hohlen and Springer have created a reselling process that works as quickly and efficiently as possible with the growing sales.

“Everything is listed on our Instagram with pictures, size and price,” Hohlen said. “If you are interested in buying, you can directly message us. When you do buy from us, we offer porch pick up and shipping nationwide.”

Springer said Shop Prep STL has received purchase orders from Nevada, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Florida, Connecticut and even Canada.

“When I look at how far we’ve come, I really do consider it an accomplishment,” Hohlen said. “We’ve managed to turn an idea into something that we can profit off of and enjoy simultaneously.”

Since the creation of Shop Prep STL, Springer said he has gained insight on consumer behavior, money management and organization.

“Because of Shop Prep, I have learned things I would have never learned within the classroom,” Springer said. “School can teach you the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, but until you actually get out and do it, you will never truly gain expertise.”

Harrison Fleming, junior, learned about Shop Prep STL through word of mouth and has been buying from them ever since.

“It’s like buying a brand new product, for half the price,” Fleming said. “It’s cliche, but, literally, is what is happening. It’s also very convenient that Christian and Alex go to MHS. They really give the local customers great service.”

Fleming said it is evident Hohlen and Springer have a target market. He said everything they sell is trending among high school students and will be in the future. With that in mind, Fleming said the company will only continue to garner more customers.

“They undeniably have something good going,” Fleming said. “Not only is it positively impacting them, but it’s offering many, cheaper, more affordable alternatives to clothes that are usually bought at a premium price.”

In the coming months, Hohlen and Springer expect Shop Prep STL to increase in size as more people learn about it and demand increases for clothes. Until then, they continue to sell clothes out of Hohlen’s basement and further their business experience.

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on October 15, 2020.