Retail | A Continuous Lean.

Small is Mighty.

Nov 29th, 2014 | Categories: Retail, Shopping | by Michael Williams

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Cuffs Clothing | 18 E. Orange Street Chagrin Falls, OH 44022

Every year the Black Friday push leaves me feeling conflicted. I understand that people out there need to stretch their dollars as far as possible, and Black Friday sales help out with that a lot. I also understand that retailers want to capture as much of people’s limited holiday budgets as possible — which is why opening times have crept earlier and earlier with many stores opening on Thursday. And opening on Thanksgiving day is where things start to become troubling for me. While I understand people want deals and retailers want as much business as possible, it really bothers me to know that a significant amount of people in retail jobs have to leave their families on Thanksgiving (a truly important time of year to be with family) to go to work so people can shop.

Although all of this Black Friday madness leaves me feeling conflicted, I’m delighted by the sentiment of Small Business Saturday which has emerged just one day down on the calendar. Established by American Express back in 2009, (coincidentally the same year we founded Pop Up Flea) the goal is to “Shop Small” and support independent businesses of every stripe. The amazing part of this program is the fact that it has given a voice to the little guys who struggle to compete and who need all of the help they can get. As someone who spends a lot of time around small retailers, I understand the difficulty in being small in scale and independently operated.

It is the small independent restaurants, bars, retailers and local businesses that truly make a town or place special. It’s something I learned watching my Dad run a small business while growing up in Ohio. A few years ago I even witnessed one of the most inspiring small business stories emerge at a nearby and beloved local hardware store. Working to save a local hardware store was an amazing gesture and something everyone everywhere can appreciate. That is exactly the spirit of Small Business Saturday. It’s about supporting the little guys who make a place special. It’s about spending money in your community and helping to ensure that the world isn’t one giant homogenized place. And it’s amazing to think that SBS represents many of the same values that we try and highlight here on ACL.

With this in mind, I made a list of some of my favorite small shops all over the U.S. This is obviously the just tip of the iceberg, but it is a good representation of the unique and small shop at its finest. I hope all of you can get out and support your local independent businesses today by shopping small.

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Leather Soul Downtown | 119 Merchant Street #100 Honolulu, HI 96813

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Harrison Limited | 2801 Cahaba Rd, Mountain Brook, AL 35223





Shopping Portland | Winn Perry

Jul 30th, 2014 | Categories: Portland Oregon, Retail | by Michael Williams

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Every trip to the Pacific Northwest for at least the past five years has included the same thought: “I really want to check out Winn Perry.”

This classic men’s store opened its doors originally in 2008 (it moved locations and went on a brief hiatus at one point), but it has reemerged better than ever and still carries Alden and a variety of other finely made things. Looking back I can’t figure out if it was either right on time, or slightly ahead of its time. Though, I can say that it is about time that I actually made it in for a visit in real life.

Winn Perry has always been understated and restrained in a good way. It wasn’t chasing a trend or movement, it was just focused on stocking good things that will last a long time. Walk in and talk to the store’s owner Jordan Sayler (he’s also the buyer and all-around shopkeeper) who can speak in great detail to everything in the place. Have a question about fit or quality? He can answer it. There are many stores these days that can actually do that, but the good service at Winn Perry is an enjoyable (seemingly throwback) experience nonetheless.

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Choosing Your Own Adventure With Best Made.

Jul 4th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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Peter Buchanan-Smith, the founder of Best Made Co. describes the brand as, “a window into the wilderness.” To Buchanan-Smith and COO Ben Lavely, the axes, first aid kits, prints, jackets, and countless other items that make up the BMC collection are meant to transport the customer from their office or apartment into the great outdoors, if only for a moment.

This notion of carrying shoppers away into the wilderness is what defines the brand’s White Street flagship. As one of downtown New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods TriBeCa is hardly the first place you’d assume a utilitarian outdoor brand would set up shop, but for Best Made, the location fulfills their ultimate goal. Once inside the shop, which opened just about a year ago, the urbanscape that lies on the other side of the door seems to slip away, and you’re transported, at least mentally, into the wild.

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Frances May | One Step Ahead

Apr 18th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Portland Oregon, Retail | by Al James

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In the last two years Portland has seen an influx of established shops from around the country (Jack Spade, Steven Alan, Imogene + Willie) pop up next to some of the city’s home-grown Northwest retailers (Tanner Goods, Danner Boots, Poler, Nau, Filson). This combination of new and old, local and out-of-town, has created a mix that has finally started to give the city a bit of its own unique and diverse shopping scene. Yet even with all these new faces, one retailer continues to stand out in the crowd as a favorite – Frances May.

For the past six years, under the guidance of owner Pamela Baker-Miller and her Grandmother (and co-owner) Connie Codding, Frances May has been Portland’s most reliable shop for high quality mens offerings. Their selection is always evolving, always ahead of the curve and always classic. While they were early supporters of American labels like Gitman Vintage and Pendelton’s Portland Collection, they’ve continued to add to that base with more hand-picked clothing lines from across Europe and Canada (Common Projects, Our Legacy, Monitaly, Folk). The unifying theme being that each piece is extremely well made, wearable day in and day out and effortlessly timeless. These are the pieces that you wear for years, not just a season or a few months.

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Goods For the Study | McNally Jackson

Feb 7th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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If there’s one thing literary types enjoy more than reading books, it’s talking about them. The status of the traditional written word has become a hotly contested debate ever since the advent of e-books and tablets, which, for some, have turned hard-bound texts into little more than decorative ephemera.

For those that still hold steadfast to our papers and pens, McNally Jackson’s Goods for the Study store is an analog oasis in an increasingly digital sea. The shop, which is an off shoot of the McNally Jackson bookstore just around the corner on Prince Street, responds to all these hi-tech textual innovations by reminding us all of the value of merely putting paper to pen. You could say that Goods for the Study is one part practical shop for the city’s never-ending supply of wordsmiths, and one part museum to the written word itself. They layout is reminiscent of the sort of design store you’d expect to find in Tokyo, not on Mulberry Street, and the product range is a clear reflection of this meticulous approach.





Now What? | Talking Shop with Carson Street Clothiers.

Jan 30th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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Don’t let the small store-front fool you, Carson Street Clothiers is a veritable mecca of modern menswear. Located on Crosby Street (Carson Street is a nod to the street where the shop’s owners Brian Trunzo and Matt Breen lived together in Philadelphia), CSC instantly became a true “destination store” from day it opened its doors this past year, catering to a savvy clientele of style obsessives young and old.

The store’s stock nimbly melds forward thinking sportswear, with traditional tailoring in a style that has been endearingly labeled as “neo-geezer.” For all stores though the first year is a learning process, and for a store of Carson Street’s size both physically and in the number of brands, there’s a lot to be learned. We spoke with Trunzo about what he’s learned, where the store’s heading, and what it’s like find new brands.

ACL: Since Carson Street opened this past year you all have added several new brands to your roster, some of which are entirely new and some of which are just new to your shop, so what do you look for when buying a new brand?

Brian Trunzo: “Breaking” new brands is something in which we take great pride, but it is a tricky and even dangerous activity. Since we approach buying from a “fan-first” basis, the threshold issue is whether we love the product and find it intriguing enough to make it into our own wardrobes. This is a pretty easy threshold to cross, though, seeing how much amazing stuff is being produced every season, so then we ask ourselves whether we truly believe that the brand in question would add something new to our shop. Once we’ve answered this question, more questions need to be answered: would our customer be interested in this product? would this product potentially cannibalize the sales of another brand we already carry? does this new brand seem financially viable enough to deliver to us on time and not fold and disappear in six months? Once we’ve answered all these questions, then we can decide the brand or product’s place in our shop. Yeah, it’s an exhausting activity.





The Armoury Hong Kong Arrives In New York.

Dec 17th, 2013 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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We New York shoppers are a spoiled sort. It seems that at least once a month a brand new store opens its doors, adding their name to the ever-growing list of boutiques that run from Wall Street to Washington Heights. And yet, it’s never enough. As New Yorkers we constantly clamor for more. More stores. More brands. More, more, more.

The Armoury New York is a store good enough to silence all of these cries.

Positioned on a fittingly tranquil street in TriBeCa, a neighborhood that is more often associated with Scorcese than shopping, TANY is the brand’s first outpost outside of Hong Kong. Although, to simply describe the shop as a New York location for a Chinese-based label would be too elementary. The Armoury is not distinguished by where they’re from, they’re distinguished by where their products are from.