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Pop-Up Retail: Repertoire at Brigade

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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During tomorrow’s annual Short North Holiday Hop, a new pop-up retail store called Repertoire will make its debut inside Brigade at 607 North High Street. Repertoire is a shoe boutique concept that started with trunk shoes and online sales and is now experimenting with temporary retail spaces. We spoke recently with owner Patrick Hicks to find out more about this new shoe shopping experience.

Walker Evans: Tell us a bit about who is involved in the Repertoire concept?

Patrick Hicks: Right now, it is just myself. However, I work a lot with Cristina Beavers who is ridiculously talented with fashion and design among a host of other things, and she is helping me build the women’s side of the company

WE: How did the concept first come about?

PH: Do you want the short version or long version? How about the short…

It really all started on a large white-board at my apartment that I used for work at my first corporate job. I began taking photos and cut outs of shoes from magazines and posting it on the board until I had a nice collection or “Repertoire.” Hence the store name. As a side note… the name definitely didn’t come along that easily!

The concept got some legs when I saw an unmet need in Columbus (and pretty much everywhere) for a store where you can get casual to dress footwear. This really bothered me, being a complete “shoe head,” because I found myself searching for shoes all over the place. Getting a pair here and a pair there, but never just from one place. Even online I could not find the selection of shoes that I like all in one site. So from there was the birth of Repertoire. I figured that I have enough fashion sense and knowledge about footwear to provide the population one place to find great shoes from independent designers and big name brands that continue to be fresh.

Repertoire has been two years in the making and the saga continues so I am excited to see where it grows from here!

WE: Tell us a bit more about the pop-up retail shop and what got you interested in starting it.

PH: The pop-up retail shop concept is brilliant! I commend whoever thought of it! I saw my first pop-up, when I actually worked in one. It was an ex-designer who supplied Banana Republic, Bacarach, and Nordstrom with their high-end men’s dress shirts and decided to test his own designs and fabrics in a retail setting and opened a pop-up. It really allows retailers to test their brand, vision, and product to the consumer before fully committing to the size and cost of a full retail operation.

I kind of tweaked that model with Repertoire from the beginning, though. I started out doing trunk shows on the rooftop of The Jeffrey where I lived with Milk Bar. From there I had a little set up in the back of Milk Bar (I loved that room, even down to the sewer smell at times) and had hours just on the weekend. The brand and product was received well, so that’s when I got back in the lab and started preparing. I thought for sure I was going to open a full-on retail store, but then I start thinking with the times and economic factors bearing retail it may be a better move to find a place where I can compliment the existing business standing and vice versa.

This really makes sense for both businesses because it allows the customer to have the full retail experience from clothes to footwear to accessories. If you look at Saks, Nordstrom, Macy’s and others, it’s pretty much the same concept, but smaller. The big guys did something right, so it’s time for the smaller boutiques to make it great!

WE: What can customers expect from the Repertoire pop-up shop?

PH: Expect the unexpected! Really! The overall theme of the pop-up shop is like a mesh between sitting in your parents living room (you know the room you couldn’t walk in or sit in, but looked very comfortable) and a 1960s cabin. Let that combination marinate for a second.

On the other hand, the style of shoes we are carrying are from causal to dressy footwear for men and women. Some the brands include SeaVees, Grenson, Jeffrey Campbell, Ted Baker, Keds, Sebago, Gourmet, Common Projects, Red Wings, and more. Our focus is showcasing the independent brands while picking some classic pieces from bigger brands like Sebago that are currently reinventing themselves.

WE: So do you still have plans to expand this concept into a full-time store in the future?

PH: I did, but that is still up for debate. I like the partnership Repertoire and Brigade are building and my ideal setting would be to have multiple pop-up stores within spaces, in other cities where the clothing and footwear complement each other.

At the same time, I want to stay conscious of the online consumer and giving them the attention and product they want. Sometimes that is lost with the expansion of brick and mortar locations.

WE: Anything else we should know?

PH: Repertoire is online as well at www.ShoeRepertoire.com and I like turtles!

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