The five Sambo stores have been owned by experienced retailers since the 1950s and are all based in the Chioggia province, not far from Venice. Their stores Hula Hoop (sportswear), Programma (woman's fashion), Made in Europe (teenager-oriented), Liliana Più (youth-oriented) and Liliana Bimbi (kidswear) cover different target markets while offering a selection of upmarket sportswear products aimed at various ages. Young men and women looking for great fit, eye-catching clothing and a balanced price-quality ratio go to Hula Hoop. by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Our spring bestseller was what we call "long season," aimed at both men and women. It’s a super lightweight down jacket, an ideal companion for such cold seasons. The bestseller for spring/summer 2012 has been the t-shirt. In a moment of general uncertainty and careful consumption, the t-shirt can give anyone the confidence to leave the store with one, two or three items. Among our most successful brands we had Happyness, the number one bestseller, and SUN 68 polo shirts, characterized by their lively neon details.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
Everyone is guided by personal criteria today. Men are especially keen on perfect fits, comfort and especially a highly profitable price-quality ratio.

Where do you place your orders? How do you inform yourself about trends?

We mostly get information from trade shows and visiting showrooms through which we understand the main trends of the season and discover emerging brands.

What’s in store for your fall/winter collections?
They will be characterized by warm, spicy colors, especially in knitwear, and mixed with natural hues. Jackets will feature duffle coat styles in boiled wool and new waterproof stretch fibers in order to provide maximum comfort. Corduroy will make a comeback, though it all depends on the weather; if it’s cold, corduroy will be successful.

Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
We’ve been looking for Made in Italy craftsman knitwear brands, products characterized by a very strong personality and aimed at young consumers looking for strong details and fresh images.

How important is communicating with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?

We’ve started communicating with them through our Facebook page ( through which we post every week or every two weeks, each time focusing on a different topic, be it a new brand, a special product, a color we strongly believe in, or a certain theme such as polka dots. It’s a way to keep in touch with our consumers. We also organize events such a fashion show once a year, usually in August. This year’s focused on neon colors and last year’s on the coat. In addition, we are constantly investing in our shop windows and reset them every two weeks with new merchandise.

How does your store differ from other stores? Our story sets us apart, as well as the fact that we have constantly presented ourselves as a serious company that always offers quality and that has always answered for its products. Plus, I think that the service is important, especially in terms of our salespeople's assistance to clientele and their kind approach and good advice. We are constantly evaluating how our staff behaves with our clientele. How important is the atmosphere and the store’s whole package?
A store has to renew itself every season and create an atmosphere that somehow reflects fashion trends. Our aim is to always offer some innovative product. We always include new brands in our selection that focus on high-quality, top image research though affordable and balanced pricing. We are facing an epic change because of the increased number of competitors like vertical chains and nearby outlets. People buy basic products through these channels and generally more elaborate and interesting pieces through our stores, even if they tend to spend less. Still, we believe that our role in terms of advice, support, research and quality is superior.