Small Business Spotlight: The Sock Monster

As part of a regular series, we’ll take a look at some of our clients who have achieved success with our one-stop loyalty reward program. We’ve seen proven results for some time – now, we’d like to share them with you to give you a better idea of how implementing our program can help you acquire, grow, and retain your customer base and ultimately, improve your business. At the very least, we hope you will pick up a few tips from these superstar small business owners!

Socks, Socks, Everywhere!

If you’re a fan of fun and kooky socks, The Sock Monster, located in Seattle, Washington, is a must-see for you! Established in 2010 by Holly Gummelt, The Sock Monster is a store that specializes in all kinds of socks and related goods including leggings, tights, leg/arm warmers, and more. So why socks?

Prior to The Sock Monster, Holly ran a clothing store that happened to have an entire wall dedicated to socks. Over time, she began to realize people often went straight to the sock wall the moment they stepped into her store. Soon enough, she started making more profit selling socks than the clothing! That’s when she had the brilliant idea to open up a store exclusively featuring socks. Thus, The Sock Monster was born. Although selling socks may seem like a strange endeavor, Holly notes that socks are appealing to a large audience because they are familiar, fun, and everyone wears them. Today, her store carries five times as many socks than when first opening. But don’t let that fool you, Holly still wishes she had more store room: The Sock Monster carries so many variety of socks that they are beginning to consider using the ceiling as additional display space!

Taking It Slow

Although Holly seems like a pro at managing her business today, she admits that there were some difficulties in the beginning, especially on the bookkeeping end. She keeps track of all the financial transactions herself and still finds it difficult to maintain filing all the different taxes that exist. Coming from Holly’s artistic background (she has a fine arts degree), it was pretty difficult for her to figure out all of that when she first began her business. Despite a somewhat rough start, she has learned by experience and recommends other business owners do their research.

When asked what advice she had for small business owners just starting out, Holly eagerly gives up some nuggets of wisdom: start really small and take it slow. She mentions that people often try to start too big and just end up overtaxing themselves. When she first came up with the idea for The Sock Monster, she wanted to simply test the product before committing herself – she did this by selling socks at local flea markets. It was a good way to get the word out there for her business and get instant feedback at the same time. In addition, Holly advises small business owners to hire wisely. It’s essential that employees are just as enthusiastic as owners because customers will see that enthusiasm and get excited as well.

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The Sock Monster’s FiveStars Story

As far as advertising and marketing goes, Holly confesses she is not much of a tech person and relies a lot on her employees to maintain The Sock Monster’s social media channels. She mainly uses social media to post information and images of new products. While they do engage in a little print advertising (mostly ads in special issues of The Stranger, a local newspaper), Holly says most of the store traffic is from word of mouth. Many people come in simply out of curiosity when they see the store while passing by. They also get a lot of visits from tourists who stock up when they come in because of the uniqueness of the products!

As The Sock Monster began to grow, Holly started implementing a customer loyalty program in the form of a paper punch card. People kept losing the cards so Holly decided to just hold on to them for customers – this way, people wouldn’t have to carry the card around and they could just look up their card when they got to the store. Eventually, The Sock Monster accumulated over 3,000 cards! Looking up customer cards began to take a long time, and Holly realized they needed a new system. That’s where FiveStars came in. In fact, The Sock Monster is one of the first stores in Seattle to sign up for FiveStars! Although it took a little getting used to for her customers, the program has overall been working well for them and gaining popularity around the Seattle area.

Long Live The Sock Monster

At the end of the day, Holly is extremely pleased with the progress she has made with The Sock Monster. She loves the flexibility of running her own business and being able to have full control over what products go and stay. The Sock Monster prides itself on maintaining a high level of ethics and supporting other small businesses (they carry many brands owned by young women). When asked about what the future holds for The Sock Monster, Holly is quick to say that she wants to keep things slow and steady. Her main goal is just to stick around! Holly is really happy with where everything is right now and intends to keep her doors open for a very long time. ■

Learn more about The Sock Monster: www.thesockmonster.com
Like The Sock Monster on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sock-Monster/121218157899476
Follow The Sock Monster on Twitter: @s0ckm0nster

Tracy Gao
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Tracy Gao

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