Calgary teenager with Down syndrome launches western clothing pop-up store

Getting a job right out of high school can be difficult for anyone, and even more so for people with disabilities.

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

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

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

Her mother, Deanne Frere, said the support from the community was outstanding.

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

Frere said while breaking even would be great, the focus is on ensuring Wyatt gains valuable customer service and business experience before he graduates from high school.

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

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

“My favorite thing is meeting new people. My sister helps and my friends help,” Wyatt said. “We’ve got some cool stuff!”

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

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

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

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