If you were to ask a student at the University of Arizona where the top place to shop was, they would tell you University Blvd. I got to talk to the mind(s) behind the successful shop, Swindlers located on University Blvd.
Christina Henneke, owner of Swindlers (which opened in December of 2008) gave me all the insight on what it was like to own and run a business on a college campus. “I think the most challenging thing about running a business on campus is keeping up with all of the demand,” Henneke says.
One of the main topics that I wanted to cover was how to keep up with trends. Henneke as well as one of the Swindler employees, Dia de la Viña, shared with me how the store accomplishes that.
Trends are quick to change, Henneke expresses, it’s a challenge to make sure that Swindlers does a good job and keeping the customers coming back knowing that they can find the hottest trends there. De la Viña shares with me that trade shows are the main way the store learns about trends before they become the trends.
In the fashion industry, there are people whose sole job is to predict trends based on current and past trends. By attending trade shows, the Swindlers team learns what they should be ordering and stocking and when they need to do it by. Henneke says, “We have a team of people, which consists of myself and two employees, who focus on managing all of our merchandise.”
Today, trends are mainly based on large influencers such as the Kardashians and many other public figure influencers. Swindlers, recently, has been focusing a lot on using Instagram to help them learn and pick pieces that they want to sell.
De la Viña also shared with me what makes Swindlers unique when being compared to the other clothing stores on University Blvd. One big factor that makes Swindlers unique is they have a website that is an online store. No other boutique on University has a website that you can purchase clothing from, this is huge for Swindlers.
As of recently, Swindlers starting to sell thrifted and vintage items that she referred to as “little bombs,” since they are usually one of a kind of there is only a limited amount of that item and they fly off the shelves.
Selling the thrifted and vintage clothing makes the store unique since thrifting is the new thing. They are also selling classic Levi items such as jeans, shorts and jean jackets. Swindlers receives new inventory every day and remerchandise the store one to two times a week, which shows how fast everything changes.
It is important for the employees to keep an eye on which items are the most successful and which are not as successful. It can be difficult for them to know which items are going to sell. It is risky sometimes to put them out, but it’s a risk they must take, both Henneke and De la Viña shared.
When they do have items that are not as successful they will decide whether to hold it in the back until a later time (when maybe it would sell better) or just put it on the sale rack. If it still doesn’t sell, “then, the last resort is $5… Everything sells on the $5 rack,” Henneke says.
Sometimes they have items that don’t sell because they are too far ahead of the trends. In that case, they take it off the shelves and hold it for long enough until they think it will be more successful. There are even a few items that are held entire seasons to make it back on the floor, but they usually come back on the sale rack.
In Tucson, especially at the beginning of first semester, the weather tends to fluctuate a lot. I asked Henneke what they do to deal with the weather, considering the customers and the merchandise. She says, “Rain, which we have been getting a lot of, affects the store. But, If it’s hot, girls shop. If it’s cold, girls shop.”
As far as making sure merchandise is corresponding with the weather she says they are constantly watching and making sure that the appropriate items are out for the current weather conditions.
Swindlers will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary in December and it is more successful than ever. The minds behind Swindlers sure do know what they are doing.
Follow them on Instagram: @shopswindlers
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