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The Art of Opening a Retail Store

It was 1:30AM. I was riding shotgun with my sister-in-law up and down the back bay alleys of a mall in Colorado on a tip that in the morning a remodeled store was about to haul off thousands of dollars of store fixtures, beautiful mirrors and more. Things that one company considers trash, another company considers treasure. I didn’t even have time to think about whether I was okay joining the world of dumpster diving scavengers. I had no choice. It was now or never.


storenighttimeAbout a year ago, Skirt Sports made the decision to open a retail store. We were operating a small showroom in our office on the outskirts of Boulder. It became apparent that we were doing a surprisingly strong business, located in an office park across from a fire station (close proximity to hot firefighters never hurts). There was zero foot traffic and zero visibility. Plus, our amazing products didn’t get the platform they need to really shine in our cramped little quarters. We also didn’t have someone dedicated to helping the wonderful women who sought us out. Our store was an afterthought.


Despite our shortcomings, it was working. The potential was so obvious we had to pursue it.


StoreoutsidepartyWe started looking for a space in Boulder last summer. I decided that the smartest thing we could do was locate near an existing running or women’s activewear store. Of course nothing was available so we waited – and waited. Finally, six months later we found it. A beautiful space located on the corner of the busiest intersection in the most active city in the world – and as a special bonus – in the same shopping center as the Boulder Running Company, the busiest running store in the country!


We signed on the dotted line and that’s when the real work started. There is an art to building out a retail store. Some people are innately blessed with something I call retail vision. I will admit right now – I am not one of those people! I needed help and fast.


Fortunately, my sister-in-law, Elize DeBoom (founder of Endurance Conspiracy), is a retail angel with more retail vision than I could ever dream of having. That’s why she didn’t give me an option that night. She was at my house at midnight, coffee in hand, ready to get dirty. When you have the fortune to stumble upon other people’s lost treasures, you take it.


That night I learned something. I learned to see things differently than before. I put on my “Retail Vision Goggles” and opened my mind to possibility.


Let’s go back to the dumpsters. I was expecting a crowd of other scavengers, all making our way around the mall in the middle of the night. It was much cleaner and easier than I thought. We were the only scavengers that night and we had permission to take the items outside, so we pulled into a bay and immediately saw the mirrors. Loaded them up, a quick dive into the dumpsters for a couple unexpected treasures, and home we went.


Of course I proceeded to get sick immediately after the big dive due to my inability to function on less than seven hours of sleep at age 44. And what’s up with cold sores? I never had a cold sore until after I gave birth at age 40, and then they hit every time I get sick. This time my cold sore even had its own baby! I was a walking nightmare for a couple weeks! But that’s part of the thrill ride. I had to push through and run on adrenaline as the store took shape.


vippartygoodviewDeadlines are important. And so is team work. One person couldn’t do this. Our entire team rolled up our sleeves, put on our old skirts, and got dirty. We painted. We hammered. We soldered. We hung skirts. And tanks. And bras. And then we hung some more. We moved things around. I think I moved the same fixture around the store seventeen times before it found its home. But eventually it got there. The truth is, everything found a home. Even the odd-shaped table toppers and random bins that we grabbed from our old office. It all came together. Like it always does even though we run around like frantic chickens thinking there is NO WAY IN HELL this will ever take shape.


We even built our offices into the back. There is a literal Magic Curtain behind which some serious Skirt magic happens. We are working on the Spring 2018 collection. That’s so far ahead your mind just exploded (mine does everyday – you’ll get used to it). It’s all on-site at our Flagship Boulder store. At any moment, I may run out while you’re shopping and ask your opinion on a print we are considering 12 months from now!


Building out the store was a huge accomplishment. But the most important thing, by far, is how you feel when you walk in the door. I want you to be happy, connected, comfortable, excited, inspired, energetic, beautiful, confident… at home.


Welcome to Skirt Sports. Get your butt in the door!27108587456_5c51007da0_z