The Accessory Bar is a Canadian urban/skate lifestyle boutique that currently has three locations: one standalone shop in Toronto, and two spots within Sully’s Snowboard Shops in Calgary. All are owned by Jon “Sully” Salomons, and the Calgary locations are managed by his brother, Joel. With a new Toronto location coming soon and an ever-increasing Web presence, the Accessory Bar caters to a varied clientele.
Your Calgary locations, inside Sully’s Snowboard Shops, are geared toward an action sports crowd. Do you have a quintessential Toronto customer?
JON SALOMONS: The demographics for this location are actually quite broad—we don’t just have one Accessory Bar shopper. We’re right in an area with a lot of businesspeople, so we have a lot of suits walking in the door. We’re also right in between Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, so we have a fair number of college students coming in. There are also a couple of high schools in the area, so we have a lot of those kids dropping in as well. I’d say we have customers aged 16 to 60, from every walk of life.
SG: How does the Accessory Bar’s open concept contribute to selling?
JS: It’s like a full-service bar; that’s why it’s called the Accessory Bar. Usually two or three people are behind the counters, and basically a staff member teams up with a customer. If you’ve got individual cases, you’ve got to unlock every single door, swing it open, grab it. This open concept makes it a lot easier to serve the customer—I can put three different brands of wayfarers in front of the customer within five seconds. If a customer only wants one specific brand, but nothing in that brand is really fitting, we can react quickly and say, “Here, try this on,” and they say, “I never would have tried this on, but it looks great.”
SG: Do you have an online strategy?
JS: I think it’s important, with multiple locations, to really gear to the individual stores, to not just have a broad Web site that covers all of them and just says, “Here are the locations.” With social media, when customers ask if something is in stock, we can answer pretty quickly, “No, but we have this,” or try to get it in. It would be harder to do that with 10 stores all bunched into one page. You can’t really have those discussions with customers. I think it’s important for us to have individual sites for each location, and then we’ll also have the broad site which we’ll launch next spring.
SG: What online features are you planning?
JS: We’re planning a product knowledge page. Customers can go to this section and say, “OK, what is polarized? What is the difference between an acetate frame or a spring hinge or a non-spring hinge?” We make sure that when customers leave our store, they know as much as we do about the product. We explain all the technology behind it, and if they’re shopping online or going to other stores where the staff doesn’t do that, they can go to our Web site and learn basically anything about every single frame of sunglasses in the store.
SG: Will there be an online ordering component for purchasing sunglasses?
JS: Definitely, but I don’t think people should blindly buy sunglasses off the Internet and think that they’re going to fit well. With sunglasses, a customer really needs to try it on, but being able to house only 500 pairs of sunglasses in the stores, it will be a really good way to showcase product that we can’t fit into the boutiques.