SUNY Oswego’s Career Services and the JCPenney store at Destiny USA provided an estimated 400 students with an opportunity to purchase professional apparel at a steep discount.

For the Suit Up event, the Oswego students had the entire JCPenney store at Destiny USA to themselves from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, to seek out formal wear with a store-provided 40 percent discount.

Gary Morris, director of SUNY Oswego's Office of Career Services, jumped at the opportunity to work with the store under the corporation’s first-year nationwide Suit Up initiative. This collaboration aims to give students the opportunity to get professional apparel at affordable prices.

Five Onondaga Coach tour buses transported students from campus to Syracuse -- four provided by Career Services and one by the Accounting Society club on campus. Students also could drive themselves. Attendees were provided with 40 percent off coupons, perfume samples, snacks, beverages and SUNY Oswego-themed decor as they entered the store.

Total sales came out to $42,528 with savings over $17,011 from the 40 percent off alone, Morris said, making Oswego first in the state and second in the nation in savings, behind only the much larger Colorado State University.

Students also could participate on Career Services’ social media efforts to win a $250 gift card prior to the event. While at the event, raffle winners were announced every half hour for different door prizes.  

“Being that I am almost done with school, it was a nice opportunity for me to get some suits and other professional clothing that I’ll be needing in the near future,” said Morgan McDermott, a senior accounting major and winner of the $250 gift card.

'Win for everybody'

Morris worked closely with Kimberly Merle, JCPenney’s general manager, to make this event as beneficial to students as possible.

“Anything we can do to help (students) financially is a win for everybody,” said Morris.

Parents were part of the effort as well. Career Services’ outreach to parents of the Oswego students was a strong factor when getting students signed up, Morris said, and it was not uncommon to see some parents there shopping with their children, helping them pick out the best items to make a good impression.

“It speaks to the significance of the program and the need I think our students have to get this attire at a cheaper cost,” said Morris. “It was a pleasure to pull this off for them.”

The 40 percent off the lowest ticketed price of men’s and women’s clothing included dresses, suits, belts, ties, jackets and more. The store made sure to stock up and had staff members prepared to conduct fittings and help in any way they could.

“I thought the event was a great chance to get some professional clothes,” said Steven Lupo, a December 2017 alumnus who was able to still take advantage of the event that was advertised that semester. “I especially liked the fact that they had people doing measurements so I knew what size shirts to get.”

Students had the option to open a JCPenney credit card for an extra 15 percent off, and 41 opened these accounts, which helped them save more money and build credit upon graduation, Morris said.

With the help of generous offices and employees on campus aiding with transportation fees, Morris said he looks forward to continuing this opportunity with JCPenney in years to come.