SES Retail Spotlight: Tyler’s
Editor’s note: Here at SES, we wanted to increase our coverage of independent retailers in the industry, so we turned to Steven “Fish” Fisher, the Senior Buyer Relations Manager for Surf Expo.
Before joining Surf Expo, he spent many years working in various levels of retail including at Wave Riding Vehicles in Virginia Beach, the U.S. Navy Exchange System, and Paramount Parks.
Welcome to the first Shop Eat Surf Retail Spotlight! We’ll be highlighting stores across multiple markets, categories and regions in and around watersports, getting to know what makes them “them” and talking trends.
First up is our good friends at Tyler’s in Austin, Texas. We chatted with Senior Buyer Cara Williams.
When did you first open your business?
Senior Buyer Cara Williams: TYLER’S opened its first location in 1978. Since then, we have expanded to nine stores throughout Texas, and launched our website www.TYLERSTX.COM.
What is the store’s specialty?
Cara Williams: We started out as a run specialty store, but have changed throughout the years, adding surf brands, then eventually outdoor brands.
Our specialty revolves around an active lifestyle. We pride ourselves on our shoe selection, everything from sandals to running shoes.
How was your business going before the crisis hit?
Cara Williams: It was going pretty well. Our first quarter reads looked promising as the weather was cooperating much better than last year.
Have you implemented any new strategies or innovations because of the crisis?
Cara Williams: Our web and marketing teams have done a great job remaining connected to our customers during our store closures, while reaching new customers as well.
Our store teams have established curbside pickup and learned to operate with a greater focus on safety and cleanliness.
Are there any methods that have been well received?
Cara Williams: Several of our stores received customer compliments for their attention to employee and customer health and safety. In a time when customers are anxious or even fearful to get out and shop, these customer compliments are everything.
If you are selling in store, online or via social media, what brands and categories are working?
Cara Williams: As stores were closed during the stay at home mandates, loungewear, workout apparel, running shoes, and private label were key categories for us.
What categories are weakest?
Cara Williams: During the store closures, sunglasses were a challenging category for us. Also, men’s swimwear has been tough, which is understandable given the current mandates and restrictions.
How are you preparing your stores to be ready for opening back up? Are you adding any safety features?
Cara Williams: We actually opened up on May 1 with many new safety measures, some of which were implemented prior to store closures.
We spent time training and educating the staff on new cleaning protocol, implementing social distancing guidelines and setting up visual markers, as well as sanitization stations. There are several new rules put in place to make sure we are in compliance with CDC guidelines, but most importantly to protect our staff and ensure the safety of our customers.
How are you planning for the rest of 2020?
Cara Williams: Right now, we are taking it day by day. We are trying to remain as flexible as possible so we can react to the needs of our customers. Many of our wholesale partners are streamlining their assortments for the remainder of the year, so we are following that example.
Any bright spots for you personally or with your business in this challenging time?
Cara Williams: With so many people impacted by this crisis, we are grateful to be healthy and working. Also, our customers have continued to support us through web or curbside orders, we appreciate that.
We have also had a ton of support from our wholesale partners which means a lot to us.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Cara Williams: As retailers and wholesalers, we need each other now more than ever. We don’t know what to anticipate regarding the future.
In a larger view, this is the most challenging time many of us have ever lived though. We just need to be patient, kind and understanding with one another. We wish everyone good luck in the months to come.