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Retail Outlook: Summer Trottier

Culture Flock Clothing LLC Co-Owner

Posted online

Five years into operating exclusively in e-commerce, Summer Trottier is helping lead her company’s first brick-and-mortar venture, and they chose to set up shop in Galloway Village.

2020 Projection: The shopping local trend will continue to grow as online ordering from places like Etsy, thought to be synonymous with shopping small, is getting tired.

SBJ: What’s been a disruptive element in the industry that will continue in 2020?
Trottier: Intellectual property theft. There are some people that want that unique gift but they don’t really want to pay for it. There’s a misconception that getting something special or different or unique, more handmade or small batch has to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be. People with Amazon and marketplaces like that where you can go and buy stuff really cheap, those are going to continue to be challenges. We’ve had our artwork ripped off by places like that before that are taking something that we sell here and we designed and made, then sell it for a fraction on some website in bulk or whatever. It’s super disruptive. In our industry, we’ve seen it happen to people who are much bigger artists than us that can make a whole lot more noise about it and get those retailers like Forever 21 or Zara – who have taken people’s property and kind of redone it – to sit up and take notice and be more careful about where they’re getting their artwork from and what they’re doing.
 
SBJ: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail sales in November were up 3.3% over the same month in 2018. Is this increase sustainable into next year?
Trottier: I’d like to think so. It probably depends on the retailer. It depends on the products you’re selling. For us, and the types of things we design, promote and sell here, going into an election year, we have a line of products that promote civic engagement and voting local. … I don’t know that every single other retailer is going to see a 3% year-over-year increase, but the economy is good.

SBJ: With the existence of retail behemoths like Amazon and Walmart, what are best practices for smaller retailers to survive? 
Trottier: It’s continuing to drive your message home, your brand, what you’re about, what sets you apart. I don’t think that means comparing yourself to others necessarily. It’s just shouting the loudest about what you’re about. For us, we found the best ways to do that are through humor. We’ve been making some silly and stupid videos. But at the same time they make people laugh, they remember it and it’s an experience. We hope they follow up and come in here and have the same experience.
 
SBJ: The Census Bureau reports U.S. retail e-commerce for the third quarter of 2019 was $154.5 billion, an increase of 5% from the second quarter. Can retailers thrive in today’s market without an e-commerce presence?
Trottier: No. We are one of those retailers that sells a good portion of the products that we sell in the store on our website as well. … You can’t be everything to everyone, but I feel like having that online presence – at least if you’re not going to sell all your products there – let people know who you are or give some kind of a sense of what it is you’re doing. People want to know who they’re buying from, especially if it’s a special gift.

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