30/30: Setting the Scene with Urbane
Since opening shop in 2008 right off Lincoln Street in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Urbane has been making an elevated statement of difference. We caught up with co-owners Trent Kolste and Mel LeBlance to hear their story on creating this retail experience, which centers around hand-selected product, a deep knowledge of the sports and gear they carry, and appealing to a diverse demographic of shoppers. By doing this they have been able to attract a broad range of consumers through their doors, and maximize foot traffic at their prime downtown location.
Urbane has also taken a new approach to the typical mountain shop rubric. The store, which caters to skateboarders, skiers, snowboarders, and fashion enthusiasts alike, has benefited from taking risks with pieces of clothing and art that go outside the “status quo,” helping them develop a strong local following, according to Kolste.
One of Urbane’s defining features is their commitment to art. The shop serves as a space for monthly installations of local art, and sponsors local art walks, as well. One of its most popular events is the annual Urbane Rail Jam that takes place streetside in front of the store. Snow is brought in for competition and a wide age range of riders throw down in the street. Urbane encompasses every aspect of true mountain living: riding, culture, music, and art.
What have you brought to the Steamboat scene? How has Urbane filled a market space in Steamboat?
We really wanted to create a unique mix of products that people don’t usually see together. I personally feel that a lot of women’s product gets pushed to the wayside in the action sports industry. We wanted to really make sure that we were offering the best and most desired apparel for both men and women. I think that expanding the clothing that we carry along with skate has broadened the array of customers that we can appeal to. I really like when brands push their boundaries and offer really on trend products. I try and support this by bringing in some of the more controversial and harder to sell pieces. My experience with this has shown that for the most part is hits with just a few misses.
What is the message/ideal that Urbane is trying to convey for and about itself as a company?
This is going to sound corny, but I think it’s inclusion over exclusivity. I was looking around the shop the other day, and we are collectively covered in tattoos and dressed like total hipsters, but everyone from the most on point kids to grandma’s feel comfortable in our shop. You don’t have to be aloof and exclusive to be cool. I hire my kids because they are all amazing people with a passion for clothing, art and music. We try to share that with people.
Have you had any success with hosting/participating in local events?
We host sooooo many events every year. We are members of the local art council and do a new installation of local artwork every month at the shop. Our First Friday Art Walks are very popular with locals. We also have a lot of success with snow and skate events throughout the year. We also donate to and sponsor a lot of other events for local charitable groups.
Is your shop working closer with any particular brands?
We have worked really closely with Coalatree Organics since the line launched. They have been the main sponsor of our annual rail jam for the past two years.
What are some things brands are doing to work with your shop?
Sponsoring events, helping us launch the website, collaborations on shop decks…..and more
Percentage of inventory dedicated to hardgoods?
We only do skate hardgoods. Living where we do skate is very seasonal. So at the high point for skate right now it makes up about 10% of our total inventory.
Percentage of inventory dedicated to men’s apparel?
Around 30% of our inventory is men’s apparel.
Percentage of inventory dedicated to junior’s apparel?
Around 35% of our inventory is dedicated to women’s apparel. We carry a lot of women’s brands that I wouldn’t categorize as Juniors.
What are your top three most profitable product categories?
Since we have opened our highest grossing 3 categories have been: Men’s shoes, Women’s Dresses, and Men’s T-Shirts.
What has been the single best-selling brand over the past six months?
The top three selling brands over the last six months have been: Volcom, Element, and RVCA.
Who are the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special?
Aww shit your trying to get me in trouble. The three reps who make my life the easiest are probably.
Tytus Friar – Blackbox
Tytus is the man. We have been doing business with Tytus since we opened our doors. He is not only one of the greatest people around. He also goes to bat hard for his shops on trade outs and mark downs, which really helps us out. He answers his phone when you call and responds to your emails when you write. Hands down best rep and best guy around.
Burl Darden – Obey
The reason he is sooooo great is that he and Obey are always available to help me with any issues that arise with the brand. Burl knows his stuff. Not only does he have great knowledge of his men’s product but has great understanding of the women’s portion of his line which is rare in a male rep. Burl really cares that your shop is doing well and want’s to help you get there. Burl is the man as well.
Matt Lufkin – SkullCandy and Stance
Matt makes shop calls. He shows up with product to restock without even being asked to. He is not pushy and is supper attentive to calls and emails. He provides great service and asks very little of me. Not to mention that he is constantly making me laugh with whatever ridiculous hair cut or “adventure hat” he might be rocking at that moment.
What is your overall impression of the local market over the past six months?
We have seen some real fluctuation this year. The weather can really affect how our seasonality plays out. We had a decent snow year this year and I think it pushed our summer traffic back further than the earlier year. We are seeing increases over last year for the beginning of our high season. I think we are going to see an overall increase of sales of about 5-8% over last summer, based on the traffic we have seen so far.
What store (or multiple stores) are your closest competition?
We have a Quicksilver store two doors down from us and they compete in certain categories. Luckily for us we are the only game in town when it comes to skate. Of course we compete directly with internet stores and retailers who sell direct.
Overall expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months?
We are hoping to continue the sales growth we have seen over the beginning of the summer. New brands and changes in sizing and buying strategies will hopefully help us increase the margin that we are realizing on the sales that we are currently making.
Is your shop altering the way you buy for 2014? If yes, how are you altering your buying ?
Yes. We are becoming a lot more department specific by vendor. Sometimes removing whole departments from a vendor if they have shown poor performance in that department in the past. We are holding more money in reserve than in the past. This will give us a chance to chase product in high demand categories. We really found that we wanted the opportunity to chase more men’s denim in holiday last year but were held back by the money we had pledged to pre-books. We have also altered the base sizing structure for men’s product based on sales.
703 Lincoln Ave Suite B101
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487