Featured Partner: Slip77

Posted on by Vierra Reid


1. Give us a little history about your shop.
Jessica and myself were living and working in Boston when we had the brilliant idea to quit our full time city jobs and take on the island life for a summer (and a change of scenery). We first met on the Vineyard through friends at Nancy’s Restaurant - a big outdoor bar/restaurant located on Oak Bluffs harbor. We packed our bags and headed back, working at Nancy’s for the summer bartending and waitressing. With a little luck and a lot of work, we opened Slip77 the next summer - building it from the ground up, the name, the logo, all the branding and concept work, the space. We named the shop after the “Secession of ’77” - a little known bit of island history that we felt represented what we wanted the shop to be, a little rebellious, very cool and always relevant. The Vineyard had attempted a secession from the Commonwealth of Mass. in 1977 - thereby the ’77 and ‘Slip’ serving a dual purpose, the meaning of ‘to slip’ from something (such as the Union) as well as our store location across from Oak Bluffs Harbor with all of the boat slips. We have a huge picture of the actual Boat slip 77 on Oak Bluffs harbor hanging in the shop, and a lot of our products show the flag used by the islanders during the secession attempt.
2. How long have you been in business?
We’re just getting into our 3rd year in business. Being seasonal, we rely heavily on good weather and lots of travelers coming to the island during the summer months. We’re lucky for both of those variables to have worked in our favor over the last 2 years!
3. What are some lessons that you’ve learned during that time?
We’ve certainly learned the importance of sticking to your guns - being young females as well as new business owners sometimes people think they can pull the wool over your eyes. We can be very particular in our requests, especially when we’re going through the clothes designing process, because we usually know exactly what we want. We don’t really make exceptions and I think that’s helped us a lot in sticking to the brand and our vision. We can be tough cookies at times, refusing to back down, but overall it’s helped us to achieve a successful store that our customers love. I would also say that being unique, and ALWAYS doing research on new brands, new trends - keeping your eye on the horizon to keep our store fresh, especially being seasonal, is crucial. We have brands we stick with year after year because we know they sell (like Proof!), and it’s important to not let your image get stale - keep what your customers love and trust, but don’t be afraid to switch it up because you may be missing out on a big part of your customer base!
4. The industry landscape has changed a lot in the last couple of years, what have you done to stay ahead of the curve?
Every pre-season we have a massive to-do list of all of the changes we want to make before the season begins - construction, marketing, product, store design and layout, purchasing, branding….and the list goes on. This ensures that every time people walk in it looks newer and better, we’ve got new product and a fresh look. I think it keeps our customers engaged and excited for our opening each year. Like I said earlier, we are also constantly researching - constantly - we love to see what some of our favorite stores on the West Coast or in other countries are selling. We’ve also joined the “local” movement that’s been really gaining ground over the last few years. We are fortunate enough to live on an island full of talented artists, so from our first season we’ve made a concerted effort to harness all of that creativity and give these designers a place that promotes their goods and sells them. We have a ton of Island artists featured in the shop, and customers love being able to shop for items that are unique to the Vineyard and made locally. 
5. What are the three most important things you do these days to serve your customer and keep them coming back?
1: Our #spotthatdot social media campaign has been super popular. Customers send in pictures of themselves reppin’ the 9dots logo - we post and repost them, and run contests based on the best ones. Our customers get excited to be spotlighted, and to be the most creative or most unique with their pictures and poses. It’s been so fun and really helps keep people engaged. 
2: We also have a lot of fun polling our customers in store. We keep it very conversational, but if we’re working on putting together an order, or designing a particular article of clothing, we’ll grab a customer and ask them to weigh in. We’ve done this on social media as well, but I think making it more spontaneous and personal is more effective. People love to feel like they’ve had a part in the process, and it’s helpful for us to get our customers exactly what they want! They’ll come back to see the items they picked or weighed in on and it’s a win-win! We recently ran an Instagram contest where people submitted their best pictures of Martha’s Vineyard. We selected the best ones and printed them on wooden plaques via a company called Plak That - we sold those pictures in the store and the winners names were written on the back. 
3: Research, Research, Research - we look far and wide to find the most unique brands for our shop. When we travel in our off-season, when we meet new people, when we find new websites or hear about something from a stranger, we are always dialed in to find those smaller boutique and hard to find brands for our shop. If a brand is already sold elsewhere on the island, more often than not we won’t pick it up. We work really hard to source the kind of stuff our customers can’t find when they go home after their vacation. It allows them to find that one unique piece that will always remind them of their time on the island and, hopefully, coming back year after year.
6. Eyewear is a competitive market, how does Proof fit in your store?
Proof is the perfect accessory brand for Slip77 - from the aesthetics of the brand and the products (our store has a lot of natural wood, rustic and nautical) to the branding itself, we couldn’t find a better fit. We picked up the brand our first season and it continues to be one of our best selling items. Proof has been the kind of brand that people seek out, and lucky for us, brings people to our shop looking for them. We call it one of our “ anchor brands." The product parallels so well with our products - casual, cool, slightly preppy and totally unique. It’s exactly what we strive for in our shop. We’ve got tons of eyewear competition from sunglass stores around the corner but they don’t offer anything like Proof, so it’s a big win for us to have such a unique, sought after product!
7. What can we look forward to from your shop this year?
We’ve just launched our online store in the last few months - and customers can now find Proof on our site at www.slip77.com. We’re also focusing a lot of attention on building exposure - reaching the customers who haven’t found us yet and getting them in the store and on-line through more marketing, partnerships and in-store events.  We’ve nearly doubled our inventory of Slip77 branded products, and we’ve hired a new Visual Merchandising Manager this Spring who we think is going to really take things up a notch in the shop this season. We’re working on some more social media fun , building on our #spotthatdot campaign - hoping to ignite some competition with giveaways! We’ve also got some other projects in the works, but nothing we can announce just yet- hopefully that announcement will come next Spring (fingers crossed!!!).
8. Any closing words?
Shop Address: 28 Lake Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA
Shop Website: www.slip77.com
Facebook: Slip77
Instagram: @slip77mv
Twitter: @slip77mv

Posted under: Blog, Partners, Wooden Sunglasses

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