Retail 101: Good Neighbor

Photography by Jake Moran

When you first walk into Good Neighbor the words clean and comfortable come to mind. Searching through racks of high-quality clothing and locally sourced jewelry, this Detroit based brand is perfect to browse when looking for a gift for a friend or one for yourself. Good Neighbor has claimed Indy as its second home and is now open at Bottleworks!

Name: Carli Goltowski

Store name: Good Neighbor

Store address: 850 Mass Ave Suite 115, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Store insta: @shopgoodneighbor

When did you open the store both here and in Detroit:
The Indianapolis store opened 12/25/21 and the Detroit store opened 11/18/18

Number of full-time employees:
4

What do you sell in your store:
Apparel and accessories for women and men.

Previous jobs/ventures:
I was the Ecom Merchandiser for Shinola, Ecom Merchandiser for Sharper Image, and Buying Specialist at Kohl’s.

Tell me about Good Neighbor’s mission.
We are a home for shoppers who are tired of brands with no roots. We give them a place to connect with brands that have a purpose and offer quality, effortless styles. Ultimately, we exist to be a good neighbor and to make a positive impact on the community.

With Good Neighbor originating in Detroit, why did you decide to open a second storefront in Indianapolis? What was that journey like?
I like to say, Indy chose us! The plan for Good Neighbor has always been to have multiple locations, but the locations were not yet chosen. About a month after opening our first store in Detroit, we received a visit from Hendricks, the development group ahead of the  Bottleworks project.  A few months after that initial meeting, we were in Indianapolis checking out the space and knew it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

Do you have an online store as well?
Yes, it’s shopgoodneighbor.com!

Which came first the online store or the bricks and mortar store?
They both opened the same day.

List five skills/qualifications that you think are important to have before launching a storefront?
I would say thorough retail experience, stamina, a few math skills, passion for the industry, and merchandising and organization skills.

What’s the most effective marketing tool that you’ve been using recently?
Instagram! It’s helped us reach a lot of new customers.

What’s more important when opening a storefront: Location, having a nice cash cushion or having a lot of retail experience? Why?
Hmm, hard to choose one. I think location wins just slightly over having a lot of retail experience. Having a great location is key to drawing in organic foot traffic and being visible to the right customers at the right time.

How do you decide which vendors/products/brands you want to carry in your store? Do you source the products or do vendors come to you? How does that process work?
I am constantly researching product. It’s the fun part, but also draining, as there are so many great brands out there. I choose brands based on style, price point, quality and their greater mission. I know right away if I’m excited about the brand and the styles they offer. I trust my gut but also use past selling data to determine if each piece will be popular. Price point and quality of the product are also extremely important. I want the balance of nice, long lasting, quality pieces that don’t give customers sticker shock. It’s also very important to me to find brands who have a purpose to their mission. Like I said earlier, many of our brands are on a mission to produce sustainably and reduce their impact on the environment. We have brands that use organic, recycled fabrics, brands that are US made and many, independently owned brands making small batch product.

Do you carry any Detroit vendors/brands? Do you carry local Indy brands as well?
Yes, we currently carry two Detroit jewelry designers Goldeluxe and Elaine B and Cream and Concrete from Indy. I’m always looking for local brands that fit well with the store.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in running your business?
LOL. Good question. One of the biggest challenges is cash flow and funding. This is a very expensive business to start and maintain without having millions on the back burner (which we don’t). We are constantly moving funds, raising funds, tracking funds to ensure the business is stable and to understand what is needed to grow. Retail is difficult in general and the past year in a pandemic has been tough.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of opening their own storefront?
Have a good, specific business plan. Understand the costs of everything; construction, millwork, supplies, inventory, employees, etc. In any business, have good accountants and a lawyer.

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming brand looking to build a strong relationship with a retailer?
Have a purpose, have a “hook”. There are so many brands out their now the ones that stick out most to me are the ones that are trying to make the world a better place in some way, shape, form.

Stop in at Good Neighbor’s newest store location in Indy at 850 Massachusetts Ave Suite 115, Indianapolis, IN 46204 and follow them on Instagram and Facebook!

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