This holiday season, Bold Socks
wants you to live boldly.
This new S. Division retailer is hoping to make your steps matter more with a November pop-up shop that will give customers a taste of its distinct and unique merchandise — top-notch socks.
Formerly an online-only retailer, Bold Socks began five years ago as a competition between co-workers who, at the time, worked on staff at Gordon Food Services.
“It turned into this idea that there wasn’t enough selling of socks online and no one was bringing the best brands together,” says Ryan Roff, co-owner and director of creative and marketing. “The opportunity was identified to try to start our own website, and it grew from $3,000 in sales the first year to $180,000 the next year and it’s just taken off since then.”
Though eventually Bold Socks owners will make17 S. Division its permanent physical retail space, Roff says a pop-up shop made more sense with the timeframe they’re working under, having just recently signed the lease on the 1,700-square-foot storefront.
“…to try to put that all together in a month’s time, we felt, just wasn’t worth it; but we do want to get our socks showcased and get the backbone of what our store will look like up (for the holiday season),” Roff says.
Though Roff says big-box retailers like Target are more recently selling similarly expressive sock fashions, he’s not worried about the competition. Not only does Bold Socks hold a unique niche in the market as one of very few exclusive retailers for statement-making socks, its parent company Bold Endeavors also has two of its own brands sold through boldsocks.com — the basic Bold Socks
label compromised primarily of solid color socks, and a second private label called Statement Sockwear
, which reaches beyond just revenue in its mission.
“Your purchase goes so much further than just buying a pair of socks,” Roff says. “With our socks, you’re able to contribute 100 days of clean water with each pair you purchase.”
To date, Bold Socks has been able to contribute 2.5 million days of clean water to African villages by way of its partner organization 20 Liters, which focuses not only on bringing clean water to specific communities, but also on helping those communities build their own sustainable infrastructure by spearheading new partnerships between business owners and churches in the area and making sure community leaders are properly trained to continue a slow but steady trend of economic growth.
“The social enterprise business model is something we believe really strongly in; in fact, we believe all companies should consider a social enterprise model if they have that opportunity,” he says, adding that they liked the idea of being a part of helping to build sustainable systems versus just donating money to a charity.
After its scheduled grand opening this spring, Bold Socks’ new 17 S. Division space will give owners approximately 1,000 square feet for inventory with the remaining 700 allocated to retail space.
He says he and CEO Ryan Preisner, alongside business partners Dan Manshaem and Adam Whitmore, are looking forward to not only consolidating operations from their respective basements, but also to new opportunities to get involved in the community and be a part of South Division’s renaissance, so to speak.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. Not only is it extremely central to Grand Rapids – I think that corner is something people think of as iconic to the essential downtown area — but there’s an opportunity to participate in the community,” says Roff, adding that choosing a location based on sales demographic alone does little to foster the diversity of brand when you compare it to actual engagement.
“We believe strongly in the growth of Grand Rapids and I think in order to attract people that actually want to walk around and be in downtown as part of a retail sector, it requires businesses like ours that are unique and offer a one-of-a-kind experience to be able to continue to progress that area downtown.”
To check out Bold Socks’ full inventory online, visit Bold Socks online
or find Bold Socks on Facebook
for more updates on its November pop-up shop and spring grand opening.
By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Bold Socks Endeavors