My friend Paul ruminated about how small “Mom and Pop” stores on busy boulevards can survive.
It is hard enough for them to beat out the online stores and the big box stores. And even just how they can be seen and get word out.
What really caught his eye was one that you’d think would have no chance of surviving…a sock store.
A Sock Store?
Yes, a sock store.
So my first impression hearing the story was, okay, probably some guy with lots of money, always traveling. His wife is bored. And he’s tired of hearing how she has nothing to do. And she spends all her time shopping at Nordstrom and hosting parties.
So he suggests she start a hobby business. And he’ll help her get set up. It will keep her occupied. And happy.
So she gets a cool idea and decides to set up a sock shop. Her friends will think it is trendy and hip. Something to keep her in their conversation.
But of course if it is just a Main Street type of Mom and Pop style store, her husband is likely funding the operation. Unless she’s business savvy and selling most of it online.
Because other than to showcase her wares, there can’t be enough foot traffic to generate the sales to keep the business afloat (unless it was a tourist location, then most anything goes if an idea catches fire).
So that may be my inner male chauvinist pig coming out. My sister would be kicking me right now…so yes, I will be doing a Part II of this that focuses on the guy version (i.e. the kept man who runs a baseball card shop, comic book store, coin shop – the guy hobby store with tons of inventory and few customers walking through).
So rather than leave it at that I did a little research.
And I found a cool little place out of Portland, Oregon.
With a very interesting story about socks. You need to check it out here.
Here’s some of the highlights that makes this not your average sock store. Take note…
- Eye catching website that looks like graffiti art or a cartoon
- Whoopi’s Socks – nothing like a celebrity plug in your business
- Made in the USA
- Free USPS Shipping on Any Size Order
- A great story about socks…and cold feet
- Niqkita’s (owner’s) story and a good sense of what it takes to grow a company from scratch (doing everything yourself) into a larger organization (where you can focus on what you do best and everyone else takes care of the remaining details)
- They do local events (like Pride Northwest) which fit their target customer – rainbow colors for Gay Pride certainly qualifies…can never get enough color!
- A personality as quirky as Portland
So how do they make money? Well they sell online, which is key for most any specialty retailer. There just isn’t enough volume to hit any scale in a purely brick & mortar business. You need the scale of the internet.
They know who they are and who their customers are. And share the same passions for giving back, outrageously fun products, and living the Portland life that defines them and their socks.
They do it right.
So go check them out and see what you can learn from Sock Dreams!
P.S. The socks shown are not from Sock Dreams…theirs are way cooler…