What is Bodega's history and how has the store evolved since it opened in 2006?
Bodega was opened by me and my two partners, Dan Natola and Jay Gordon. We opened an art gallery nearby in 2008 and just released our full line of apparel this past weekend. Throughout the past six years, we've done collaborative design for all of the major footwear brands. We also handle the design and marketing for all of Saucony's Elite Japanese line.
What are your bestselling brands and styles in footwear and apparel currently?
The buying of the store expanded past streetwear and footwear and GQ recently named us one of the best menswear stores in North America! Our buyer Leo Pagkaliwangab has an amazing eye and was responsible for bringing in bestselling brands like Norse Projects, Penfield and Yuketen. Nike, Jordan, Vans Vault and Clae do well for us in the footwear category. Our own Bodega brand tops out menswear sales volume.
How would you describe your “typical” customer?
The city offers so much diversity that it's a huge mix of hip-hop nerds, students, tourists, academics, street money getters and fashionistas. The best part of being in the shop is seeing all these different people mixing together under the love of fashion, sneakers and the cultures that influence it.
What would you say are the next big trends or brands in footwear and streetwear?
Bodega is on the come up.... did you see our spring collection? As Leo says, “Baggy everything. If you see pictures of ‘90s era bands and artists it’s just really baggy hoodies, camo shorts, runners. It’s just a certain aesthetic that’s very unique from everything else that’s come out recently.”
How and where do you source new products and brands?
We work really closely with Leo to scour the earth for the best lines to add to the mix. The shop itself has a certain amount of gravity to it so a lot of opportunities come to us. We also get recommendations from other shop owners and buyers we talk to on the regular. There’s a nice spirit of collaboration a camaraderie that is inherent in streetwear.
How does your online business compare to your brick-and-mortar one today? And do they cannibalize each other at all?
For us, online has the biggest potential for growth, but brick-and-mortar inspires us every day. You can't digitally re-create the personalities and the feeling we have in the shop so we shunned online for a long time. But so many people wanted us to do online sales that we had to give them what they wanted. Clients move away. Someone visits Boston and comes away with our vibe. They don't cannibalize each other at all–they complement each other. Selling online gives the physical shop more resources. The physical shop distinguishes our website with something tangible.
How important has it been to have an in-house collection in addition to all your outside brands?
It’s been really important for us to make things and contribute to the conversation of fashion. We would get bored if we didn't create.
What would you say are the top two or three “secrets” to being successful retailers today?
Business is very personal when you deal with the public. We treat each other and our clients with love and respect and it has benefitted Bodega infinitely. Other than that, take time off and stay inspired.