Calgary teen with Down syndrome launches pop-up western wear shop

Click to play video: 'Calgary teen with Down syndrome launches pop-up shop'
Calgary teen with Down syndrome launches pop-up shop
Wyatt Smuszko,16, has been thrifting and collecting donations of used western wear with a plan to open a pop-up shop in Calgary ahead of the Stampede. Michael King reports – Jan 28, 2022

Getting a job straight out of high school can be tough for anyone, and even more so for those with disabilities.

That’s why 16-year-old Wyatt Smuszko is looking to gain hands-on experience by opening up his own pop-up shop — with a Calgary twist.

Wyatt and his family started Wild Wild Wyatt Western Wear in December with the hopes of gathering enough inventory to set up shop before this summer’s Stampede.

After weeks of thrifting and receiving donations, Wyatt already has enough shirts, skirts, belts and boots to fill his garage.

His mother Deanne Frere said the support from the community has been outstanding.

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“We just thought it was a great opportunity for him to take pride in something and to have something of his own,” said Frere. “He can make some money and show off his personality and his charisma at the same time.”

Frere said that while breaking even would be great, the focus is on making sure Wyatt gains valuable customer service and business experience before graduating high school.

“This is an opportunity for Wyatt to get a line item on his resume,” explained Frere. “He can show people that he’s a capable and charismatic kid and he’s ready to take on different challenges.”

Wyatt says that while it’s been hard work, he’s excited for the chance to sell his wares.

“My favorite part is meeting new people. My sister helps and my friends help,” said Wyatt. “We have some cool stuff!”

Frere knows the experience so far has been valuable and that other families with children with disabilities should be encouraged to try a similar venture.

“People want to help, Calgary is an inclusive city. They just need to know what you need from them,” said Frere. “Let’s celebrate inclusivity.”

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Wyatt is accepting donations through his Facebook page and is open to suggestions about where to set up shop in the spring.

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Calgary artisans find ‘awesome opportunity’ during COVID-19 pandemic

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