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health care supports healthwear
story by Audrey Hanes, photo by Shaila Creekmore

As the city of Jonesboro and its economy continue to grow and diversify, the medical and retail industries in particular have seen unprecedented growth. In an effort to combine them both, Courtney Shackelford recently opened HealthWear Inc., a specialized boutique that gives health care professionals an enjoyable shopping experience for their workplace attire.

Bright lights, fun colors, a plush seating area, a shoe nook and organized racks make HealthWear look and feel more like a unique boutique than a scrubs supply store. Well-known brands of scrubs and accessories in a variety of price points make it a friendly experience for all who shop there.

“I didn’t think about shopping for scrubs as much until I moved into a career where business dress was the attire,” said Shackelford. “When I started shopping for those types of clothes, I realized that scrubs shopping wasn’t fun at all, even though the cost is often the same.

“I don’t think – based on my research – that another scrubs retailer has gone to this level; it’s not fun to go in and dig for things. To have it in a way it’s easy to find things, with good lighting in the dressing rooms, the whole idea – it’s so much more enjoyable.”

Shackelford has both a professional background and personality that make her perfect for her new line of work. She graduated from Arkansas State University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences and has been involved in the health care field ever since. Before opening HealthWear this past November, Shackelford was the marketing director for Absolute Care Management, but when an opportunity arose for her to change the way health care professionals shopped for their daily attire, she jumped at the chance.

“I really thought there was a market for this here,” said Shackelford of why she chose to open the store. “I thought it could be something refreshing if done right and that it could change the way people shop for their professional uniforms.

“I wanted them to view it as a shopping experience like any other, rather than shopping for a necessity, even though it is. Why not let them express their individual style and personality, even if they have to do that in a specific color to coordinate with their colleagues?”

Shackelford does her best to include a variety of both men’s and women’s sizes that are easily marked, from tall to petite to full size. Embroidery and hemming are available on-site, as well. Some of the brands that the store carries include Barco scrubs like Greys Anatomy, ICU and NrG, as well as Med Couture, Healing Hands and many others.

“We’re carrying a full range of prices so that anyone at any pay scale can come in and find something that they love,” said Shackelford. “We don’t want to tag ourselves as a boutique because we don’t want people to feel like our scrubs are out of their price range or that we’re not male-friendly. …

“It’s been a lot of fun having people come in. They always leave smiling. We make a point to make everyone feel special. We’ve gotten lots of great feedback about the look of the store and what we carry. We are going to make it a point to keep that variety.”

HealthWear will also work with smaller groups, such as dentist offices or groups of coworkers. When a special order comes in, the scrub store will even deliver the scrubs to the local office that ordered it.

“We are open to working with groups and employers,” said Shackelford. “People can call and schedule exclusive sessions so that groups can come in and look, feel, see and find exactly what they want, either during store hours or after we’re closed for a private session.”

In addition to scrubs, the specialty store carries other medical essentials like Prestige stethoscopes and shoe brands like Klogs and Dansko in its special Shoe Nook. The store also carries fun accessories like stud earrings, watches and bracelets, all of which allow health care professionals to express their individuality in a safe way in the workplace. If HealthWear doesn’t have what a customer wants, the store’s staff will try to find a way to order it online.

“Anyone can go online and order scrubs, but I don’t think that’s what people want to do if there is a better option out there, which is what this is,” said Shackelford. “They can come in here and have a cup of coffee, have a friendly conversation and get style advice. It goes deeper than that, too. If they see something online, we’ll do our best to get it here so that they can shop local instead of going outside the community."

HealthWear’s Floor Manager Jessica Odom makes a product called KnotHeads, which is exclusive to the scrub store. The headbands are made of recycled T-shirts and are especially great for health care professionals because they keep hair out of their faces without the headache-causing pressure that is characteristic of many other headbands.

“I think the whole atmosphere of the place makes people want to go out of the box a little; they want to try out new styles and new brands,” said Shackelford.
The store’s CEO, who is a Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce Goodwill Ambassador, has been able to witness firsthand the growth that necessitated the need for HealthWear in the first place.

“I’ve seen the growth that has happened the last five years in health care, and it’s immense; it’s been a great front seat to all the growth,” said Shackelford. “With the new (NEA Baptist) hospital and expansions at St. Bernards, plus all of the different individually owned and operated health care providers that have moved to the area because of the growth, there is an increased need there. The growth of the community translates to the growth of health care and health care professionals.”

For more information about HealthWear Inc., located at 1320 Stadium Blvd., call 336-3046, find it on Facebook or email courtneys@healthwearinc.com.