Boardsports and streetwear retailer Blue Tomato is on expansion path. In the last weeks the company has opened two new stores in Austria located in Bregenz und Wörgl. Focusing on streetwear, shoes, accessories, skate and longboards and depending on the season, certain products move into the foreground. Here, Simone Unterrainer, deputy head of buyer and head of women’s buyer, and Tillmann Ruprecht, head of retail expansion, discuss Blue Tomato’s concept based on three elements: sports related store locations, authentic member of staff and a clear focused assortment offering a brand range consisting of all the big players combined with small, individual brands.

Bregenz Blue Tomato store
Bregenz Blue Tomato store

Why did you open your store? Please share your story and your motivation!
Tillmann Ruprecht: We’ve been searching for the right venues for quite some time. Ultimately, we want to offer our customers the ideal shopping experience – central and in the right size. Now, we are really happy to have found not only one, but two of those venues. Just like us, Vorarlberg and Tyrol have are historically connected to winter sports. Moreover, a lot of customers from Wörgl and Bregenz already ordered online on and pointed out where they would like to see us.

What is important to you when it comes to shopfitting and store design?

Tillmann Ruprecht: It all starts with the choice of the location: it is especially important that we have the possibility to adjust our shopfitting individually to the architecture of the buildings and surfaces. Additionally, we make sure we guarantee a warm atmosphere. In doing so, it is the materials in particular, which set the mood.

The store should also be relatively quickly and easily convertible. This is substantial, since we offer a very different range of products every season and this way we can restage the shops accordingly. Running updates, which we test in our new stores, as well as in our established shops, are common courtesy.

Bregenz Blue Tomato store
Bregenz Blue Tomato store

What does your assortment offer? Which are your key brands? And which brands did you recently add to your range?
Simone Unterrainer: We offer a great selection. All throughout the year we focus on streetwear, shoes, accessories, skate and longboards. Of course, depending on the season, certain products move into the foreground. Currently, we are pushing snow wear and hard goods (boards, boots, bindings, ski, ski shoes). We put great emphasis into the optimization of our shops and product groups to offer our customers the best possible selection. Key brands are, of course, big players such as Burton, Volcom, Oakley and Roxy. But we also focus on smaller and yet unknown brands. A good mix of classic and new brands is very important.

Which are your bestsellers, the best styles, brands and colors at the moment?
Simone Unterrainer: We definitely count longboards and cruisers to our bestselling products this year. It’s currently changing into the winter season, therefore snowboards, skis, as well as snowboard- and ski jackets and pants are highly popular right now. Trends for the winter season are so called halfzip (sweater) jackets with an 80’s charm, or bib overalls.

When it comes to colors, there really isn’t anything off-limits. Colorful, monochrome, earthy tones, bright colors, all-over-print or color block – nothing is impossible.

Concerning streetwear, flannel shirts are a must, but also coach jackets (button up, mostly made from nylon) for men are in fashion. Dark, earthy colors like olive, brown, black and grey still rank among our top sellers.

In the shoes department it’s getting more wintery – today, almost every brand offers solid winter shoes with an abrasive, anti-slip sole and warm inner lining.

Wörgl Blue Tomato store
Wörgl Blue Tomato store

Please tell us five products you currently can’t go without.
Simone Unterrainer: Snowboard/skiing jackets, snowboards, skis, cruiser (skate), splitboards; generally the whole free ride segment, as well as technical outerwear, fur and LVS equipment.

Where do you buy your merchandise? Trade shows/ showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about current trends?
Simone Unterrainer: We buy the goods at the showrooms of the respective brands. Trends continuously reach us through different sources. But a lot happens at diverse trade shows in Europe and the US.

Are customers looking for specific brands or pieces, or do they shop spontaneously?
Simone Unterrainer: The purchase is a mix of new trends and brands. But naturally, our customers also decide on purchasing products from the last season that are on sale.

What makes your store special?
Tillmann Ruprecht: Our brand range consists of all the big players combined with small, individual brands. Furthermore, we convince with good music and top-trained and motivated sales assistants from the scene. Through the acquisition of Zumiez in 2012 we are able to grant a fast adaption of trends specifically from the US. Another great advantage: every customer can explore the online shop and order free shipping to the stores.

What do you like about your location/ your customers?
Tillmann Ruprecht: We have everything the board sport heart desires: close proximity to the mountains and the skiing areas in the winter, and the best skate parks in Europe in the summer. Our customers are so similar to us, they share our lifestyle.

Wörgl Blue Tomato store
Wörgl Blue Tomato store

Is there some kind of role model store for you? An international shop that inspires you?
Tillmann Ruprecht: Of course, when you travel you see details here and there that you can borrow, but generally come up with our own ideas and systems that work well for us and fit our concept. Everything else is completely out of question!

Which is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
Tillmann Ruprecht: To have the right product, to the right time, at the right place.

Blue Tomato Bregenz
Kaiserstraße 32
6900 Bregenz

Blue Tomato Wörgl
Bahnhofstraße 54a
6300 Wörgl