We spoke to Alisha Kurtz, owner of Woolies Quality Clothier out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, about her plans for the year ahead.
Editor's Note: As statewide rules and regulations continue to change, please contact retailers for their latest store hours and delivery capabilities.
Alisha and Andy Kurtz started Woolies Quality Clothier in 2015. Located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the rugged Western retailer carries an assortment of styles ranging from ranch-ready to sparkle-centric. And although virtual markets will continue to help buyers this year, Alisha still loves in-person markets and buying clothes she can touch and feel. Read more about her strategy in the year ahead.
Heading into 2021, have you made adjustments to your buying strategy?
For 2021 we plan to do the majority of our buying virtually. I am not planning to travel to large markets this year. In fact, one of the main markets I will be [buying at is] hosted virtually this year. Aside from virtual line viewings, not much will change. We will continue to buy from the same vendors and the same types of clothing.
Has your customer demand shifted toward certain trends or items?
Woolies didn't have to reposition much in our buying strategy. For years we have carried clothing for the Western lifestyle. We carry classic styles that work year after year and for all different occasions. Our favorite pieces are those that can go from the branding pen to a night out on the town. With that, Woolies already offered clothing for everyday life, and for the most part the lives of our clientele hasn't been drastically affected in terms of their work/play lives. The ranchers are still ranching. The horse trainers are still training. The weekend warriors are still spending their spare time in the saddle. We have been very fortunate in this aspect. When COVID hit, I didn't cancel a single order as I knew everything we had coming for fall still worked for the lives our clientele lead.
The ranchers are still ranching. The horse trainers are still training. The weekend warriors are still spending their spare time in the saddle. We have been very fortunate in this aspect.
What are the most useful functions/features of market that contribute to your success?
I am very much a touch and kind of person. I have always been an in-person learner, which I believe translates similarly to my buying habits for Woolies Quality Clothier. Quality is of upmost most important to me. Always offering quality items has helped Woolies develop a loyal following who knows what to expect when purchasing from us. For this reason, I try to avoid doing online buying as much as possible, especially from a new vendor I haven't worked with before. Additionally, I really enjoy developing and continuing in-person relationships with our vendors. Several of the wholesalers I buy from have become very good friends whom I talk with outside of market. Owning and operating Woolies is much more than an income source to me; it is a lifestyle that has led me to some of the greatest people I know.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that W&E is conducting with retailers. Click here to peruse more stories and interviews from the retail industry.