Located in Seattle, Washington, Kuhlman is an 800-sq.-foot (74-sq.-meter) store that specializes in bespoke tailoring and men’s and women’s contemporary clothing from brands that include Descendant of Thieves, Harlyn and Barbour, among others. It opened in the late 1990s. SI contributor Rudy Gonzales recently spoke with owner Scott Kuhlman to delve into his “thrift hound” buying strategy and the store’s “retro grouch” decor. Interview by Rudy Gonzales

What inspired you to get into retail and open Kuhlman?
There was an opportunity in a great old building in Belltown, my favorite neighborhood.

What are some of your current bestsellers brandwise and itemwise?
J. Lindeberg suits and woven shirts, Barbour waxed cotton coats and accessories and Tellason jeans. Everything from Penguin and Nixon.
"We offer ready-to-wear from T-shirts to tuxes", S. Kuhlman
"We offer ready-to-wear from T-shirts to tuxes", S. Kuhlman

Have you been surprised by the sales performance of any particular item or brand?
Nixon launched clothing for men and women not too long ago. It’s well designed and priced so it’s not really a surprise that it sells well.

Who is your “typical” customer?
Creative professionals and people who live and work in neighborhood.

How does the store compare to other shops in the area? What sets Kuhlman apart?
We are diversified. We offer ready-to-wear from T-shirts to tuxes as well as bespoke custom. We also do alterations and repairs on garments that didn’t necessarily come from our store. We keep a lot of favorite jeans on the road even after major blowouts.

What has been the biggest challenge of having the store thus far?
Dialing back inventory to get through the recent down cycle. Anathema to a professional shopper.

How do you find new brands and merchandise?
I have always been a thrift hound and that often gives me inspiration to seek out newer versions of what has gone before.

Tell us about the store’s décor.
Retro grouch.

Kuhlman and its "retro grouch" interior opened up in the late 1990s
Kuhlman and its "retro grouch" interior opened up in the late 1990s

What special services does Kuhlman offer customers?
Expanding on the stuff listed previously we offer suits in a variety of styles and price points and can customize them to whatever degree might be necessary.

What are two or three rules that every retailer always needs to follow?
Not saying that I have always adhered to these but treat your customer like you want to be treated, offer value and don’t sit on old merchandise.

What fashion trend, brand or specific piece are you excited to carry for the spring 2013 season?
Carter’s workwear is beautiful and cut perfectly.

2419 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
+1 206 441 1999