In April 2013, Konstantin Gorshkov ditched his career in the software development industry to curate a collection of menswear with Northwest appeal. Two years later, Kirkland-based Seattle Thread Company is celebrating two years in business.
While Konstantin prides himself on the company’s coveted collection of merchandise, he’s also utilized some savvy marketing tools to keep his business blossoming. When he hosted an in-store event with customer and Seahawks running back Robert Turbin a line of fans stretched out the door and onto Lake Street. Gorshkov’s father Yakov Gorshkov is an expert tailor, and has added to the personal shopping experience the store provides.
Here’s what Konstantin had to say about reaching the two year mark and what’s made his retail endeavor successful.
His best advice? Treat your store like a startup.
Why did you decide to open a men’s clothing shop in Kirkland and not Seattle?
Kirkland was the ideal location for our concept business-casual men’s shop — an upscale and walkable Main-Street setting with the right demographics and affordable commercial space. Seattle also had potential locations to open a men’s specialty shop, however I could not deal with the chaos of downtown Seattle. Other main locations, such as Ballard, South Lake Union, and Fremont. just did not have the right feel and demographics for the concept.
What’s been the most effective way to market your business?
Our shop window is our key marketing tool. Even though the Seattle Thread Company storefront is just a small slice along Lake Street, we are situated on a high-foot-traffic sidewalk right across the street from the local Starbucks. Downtown Kirkland is a popular lunch spot, a sunny weekend destination, and an arterial for car commuters. That gives us plenty of exposure, and getting the attention of new potential customers is always difficult.
We are an active member of the Kirkland Downtown Association and the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce. We participate in food, art, and wine events with other members of the business community including the Heathman Hotel and Ryan James Fine Arts. We work with Seattle Seahawk Robert Turbin and arrange events with the Kirkland community.
And of course we have search, social media, and print marketing campaigns to advertise our business to local residents and visitors. It take a long time to reach market saturation — we still have local Kirkland residents discovering Seattle Thread Company who live a block away and had no idea the shop was right there.
What’s your most popular item?
We sell a great deal of business-appropriate designer jeans and pants including AG, Alberto, and Agave. Another category that does well is our wide selection of fitted button-down shirts such as Stone Rose and Zachary Prell.
How does it feel to be celebrating a second anniversary?
It feels good! The completion of a second year is always a milestone for a new business, and we have been pulling in steady and growing monthly sales. I can breathe easier now, literally and financially.
What’s next for Seattle Thread Company?
Now that we have a growing customer base, there are some categories that we can expand including tailored clothing, watches, accessories, and shoes. Both locally and with our multi-channel online sales, there is much room for growth. Further down the line, we might create our own brand of clothing.
The retail business can be tough, any advice for those opening a new, independent shop?
The rules that apply to any startup venture also apply to independent retail — find an untapped market niche and use your agility and small scale to gain a competitive edge over the established players. We provide our customers with a boutique shopping experience and our curated business-casual selection is entirely different from what you find in a department store.