College students learn to live very frugally on tight budgets. If there’s any way for a penny to be pinched or a buck to be saved, they will find it and hold on to their dollars until spending becomes absolutely necessary. This often means that a hole or two in a sweatshirt or pair of jeans goes untended to and un-replaced. After all, it’s just a little hole that nobody’s really going to notice, right? Making sure an entire wardrobe looks nice costs more than most college students can afford.
“My prices are reasonable because I think that everybody should be able to look nice,” says Jenna Benard, the owner and operator of Jenna’s Alterations in Downtown Lancaster City. The store opened in May 2012, and provides a host of sewing and alteration services for clothing, bags and other garments. Benard, a 1993 graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School, began sewing at age 15 and has taken and continues to take classes on sewing and alterations to improve her skills. After completing an apprenticeship under local tailor Harry Monahas in her 20s, Benard began sewing professionally.
“I just really like to be able to help people,” said Benard, who has also been teaching English to English language learners through the Literacy Council for nearly two years. “People [today] in general are ‘now-now-now’ and tend to throw things away rather than try to fix them.” She added that she enjoys how her business has allowed her to meet people from many different places and get to see all sorts of fashions.
Benard particularly enjoys using her sewing skills to help college students. “College students make me think of having my own kids,” said Benard, who is engaged to be married in January. “I think it’s cute when they come in with bags of clothes and ask me to fix them, almost like they would if they were actually going home to their parents.” She added that since college students usually do not have a lot of money and are away from home, she tries to be especially considerate when pricing jobs for them. “Basic, normal alterations cost between $1 and $40,” said Benard. More complex alterations are priced higher. “I get worried that some of the more complicated stuff might break my machines, so I have to charge more,” she joked. Cash-only pre-payment is required.
While she is committed to giving any article of clothing her best effort, Benard emphasizes that some articles simply cannot be altered. “If you’ve lost more than 35 pounds, you should probably buy new (clothing),” she said. “Men: if you’re buying a jacket, make sure it fits well around the shoulders before you try to bring it in to be altered.”
The best part of the job for Benard is “When people try something back on after I fix it and they’re just like ‘Oh, my goodness!’ It makes it all worth it,” she said.
Jenna’s Alterations is located at 52 North Queen Street in the Place Marie Courtyard behind Pottery Works and next to Lancaster Central Market. The store is open Wednesday – Saturday. For hours and other information, find Jenna’s Alterations on Facebook, call (717)-598-5655, or e-mail JennasAlterations@gmail.com.