Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My visit to Threadless - for real

The primary destination of our road trip was Chicago. As far as my kids were concerned, a trip to Chicago would be incomplete without a trip to the real-life, bricks and mortar Threadless store. Truth be told, the same could be said for me.

We had barely settled into our hotel room and there was no way the kids would even consider doing anything before making the trek to Threadless, so we did. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve been a huge fan of Threadless and how an online community was built around this brand that originally could only be consumed online. I was curious to see how it would translate into the offline world, particularly since most online stores are an extension of an existing offline store, not the other way around.

As you can see from the slideshow of my photos, skinnyCorp, the folks behind the Threadless brand, did a great job of translating the spirit of into a 3D format. The friendly staff was exactly what you’d expect and more. The tiny three-level shop was jam-packed with Threadless t-shirt goodness. Oh ya, in addition to a gift or two, my kids and I each bought a t-shirt – mine is called Fall Into the Sun. (Like all Threadless tees, it’s available online today for a mere $9US!)

But there are some differences from the online store:
A fraction of the styles are available – not surprising considering the huge inventory online.
New tees are released on Fridays (not Mondays) so you’ll have a head start on the online shoppers if you shop on the weekend.
StreetTeam points can’t be redeemed here. Instead, shoppers get a reusable bag with their initial purchase that can be reused for $1 off subsequent purchases – a recyclable coupon of sorts.

Now if I could only get the website to accept the photo of me in my new tee all would be well in the world. Seems it logs my purchase history but isn’t able to integrate in-store purchases.

And a quick aside, Threadless seemed to be situated on a block I dubbed “community row” because it’s beside a bike store filled with Specialized bikes and down the street from a bakery with a “Community Divas” cake in the window – check out the picture.

What do you think of Threadless? Do you think it was a good idea for them to open a storefront? If you’ve been there, what other differences have you noticed?
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. "Hi:

    Two things

    1) I’d like your permission to (re)print your article on Mad Men for our website

    2) I was hoping we could use your ‘scribing’ talent for our website.

    The Best Shows Youre Not Watching (dot) com [all one word]

    Mad Men is one of our featured shows. We’re hoping to round up a few people who can occasionally contribute perspective (via an article/blog) on the shows – maybe a recent episode, future direction, plot shortcomings etc.

    What’s in it for you?
    Primarily a larger audience back channeled to your blog. We don’t pay but the site has a lot of promise and we're pretty excited about getting it off the ground. Let me know what you think.


  2. Threadless is the poster child for successful crowdsourcing, so visiting their bricks&mortar location would an exciting pilgrimage.

    If they are planning to get into offline retail, however, I'm a bit dubious. I think that is what ruined JustWhiteShirts.

    Some things are cooler when they are just digital.

  3. (Best Show)Watch - thanks for your comment.

    Glen, although I agree with you in principle, Threadless actually manages to carry it off quite well. I'm not sure if their strategy is to expand into the offline space in a big way. A pilgrimage was exactly what our visit was like.


  4. I love how cheap their t-shirts could be. They have really cute designs. I think the flagship store is a good idea. Johnny Cupcakes has opened up a few of his own and he's a millionaire now.

    I'm planning on going to Chicago this Christmas! I hear they have the best pizza and hot dog. Did you by any chance try them?

  5. Jai, Thanks for your comment. We often buy Threadless at regular price too. ;-) My experience with their stores online and off, although adapted to the medium, conveyed the same brand, look, feel and most importantly, culture.

    Thanks also for putting Johnny Cupcakes on my radar. Unfortunately, I didn't try the famous Chicago hot dogs or pizza this trip. There will be more trips and they're on my list.



Thanks for visiting my blog. Your feedback is important to me. I read every single comment and do my best to reply.

Note: Anonymous comments and spam will be deleted.