Retail 101: Cargo Streetwear Boutique

Photography by Jayden Kennett

Two young entrepreneurs banded together to open up their container store “Cargo Streetwear Boutique.” Located on Shelby Street just south of the Raymond exit, it’s hard to miss the bright orange 40 foot container store. A combination of their own personal brands, niche and high end streetwear, makes this store extremely unique. 

Name: CP & Alex Olla 

Store Name: Cargo Streetwear Boutique 

Store Address: 2328 Shelby Street, Indianapolis IN 46203

Store Insta: @cargostreetwear

When did you open the store? 

We opened up originally as Frozen Tears in October, 2017. And then we did Cargo Streetwear popup with Startup 317. And then we opened the physical container store on November 8, 2019. 

Number of full time employees? 

Two.

What do you sell in your store? 

We have a wide range of products in terms of what we do here. We sell brands that are well known to the streetwear community. But then we carry a lot of other niche brands that are really in terms of educating people.

Do you have an online store as well? 

We don’t have a website because  the store is structured around our two brands. So we both have our own individual brands and we want to entice people to come into the store to buy the products that we have and then introduce them to our brand. So if we ever do move forward with a website, it’s essentially just going to be a landing page with information to get you here.

Previous jobs/ventures? 

CP: I’ve done everything, landscaping, I’ve done iron work. I used to build high rope courses… just about everything honestly. 

Alex: I’ve worked in restaurants, I’ve worked in logistics. I guess everything is set up for me to know how to run this type of thing. I’ve worked in retail the longest. 

Why did you decide to open the storefront? 

I’ve always wanted to open a clothing retail store that centered around streetwear. I was actually running around Indianapolis trying to get investors to give $100,000 to open a streetwear store. At that time it was hard. It was a harder concept to try to get people to understand that people will pay more money for dead stock stuff. A question that I kept getting was ‘People are going to pay you more money for used product?’ And they just couldn’t grasp the concept that there’s this “niche of hype”. I thought there was something really important for having that brick and mortar space… I think for small brands and niche brands it’s [brick and mortar space] is super important. 

List five skills/qualifications that you think are important to have before launching a store? 

Business accuracy, resilience, creativity, understanding your market and willpower. 

What’s the most effective marketing tool that you’ve been using recently? 

Instagram and Facebook. 

What’s more important when opening a storefront: Location, having a nice cash cushion or having a lot of retail experience? Why?

I have zero retail experience, I’ve never worked retail. So, that’s completely irrelevant. I guess it just depends on what you’re trying to do with your business and your business model.  Location obviously is super important in terms of tracking foot traffic. And if your business is something that you depend on those numbers, then yeah, I think location would be important. A cash cushion, that’s super subjective because  even if you had $100,000, I’m pretty sure we’d figure out how to spend it really quickly. Having cash, positive cash flow, within the businesses is probably more important. 

What do you think is most important when opening a storefront? 

Willpower. If you don’t have the ability to  just want to do it and do it even when it sucks, then you’ll never do it.

How do you decide which vendors/products/brands you want to carry in your store?

We shop a lot of brands that are things that we would buy ourselves. There’s a lot of nice stuff out there that, you don’t really know what it is. So when you see it, it’s like, alright, I really like this. I wouldn’t mind buying this or other people may like this as well.

Do you work with vendors on a consignment basis?

Nope. Instead of going to the vendors and say, ‘Hey, I really like these pieces, can I have this for sale or whatever?’  We’ll go to a store, we’ll say, ‘Hey, these are pieces that people where we are really like.’ So we don’t really have to go to those people because they’re already being sold at stores. So if they ever come to us and say, ‘Hey, well you guys are already selling our products, um, can you sell this?’ We can also dictate how we want to sell that.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in running your business?

I think people that don’t know us already. That’s probably the hardest thing only because everyone feels like they’re in their own bubble and no one else can relate. A lot of times even telling people about this initially, they won’t really get into it until they get on our Instagram or maybe stop and talk to one. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of opening their own storefront? 

I would say figure out what the problem is and then become a problem solver. If you become a problem solver, anything that you want to do is is limitless.

Are there any online resources that you regularly visit to help you run your business better or keep up with the latest industry trends?

Instagram. I wouldn’t necessarily say anything that helps you run your business better, but there are  forums that will show you, ‘Hey this is how we’re running our business in the UK’ or ‘This is what we’re doing out in New York or LA.’ And then it kind of puts you in that same mind state so you know what your culture needs.

 

Check out Cargo Streetwear on Instagram!

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