Wealthy Ho$tage resides in the heart of Brooklyn and as owner Gene will tell you, this is a store you will deeply regret passing by when in the most populous borough of New York. Most stores of this class will have an obvious focus of apparel or sneakers, but itâ€™s a rare thing to see it handled so well on both fronts respectively. Credit for bestowing this one stop shop status to Wealthy Ho$tage can be sent in the direction of head buyer, City. For those not able to visit Brooklyn, Weatlhy Ho$tage also has a proficient online store for customers to peruse.
“I chose a career path that enabled my love for the streetwear game to thrive. Itâ€™s the path Iâ€™ve chosen and Iâ€™ve been loving it ever since. Recession or not, the shitâ€™s thrilling!”
Format: Whatâ€™s the premise of Wealthy Ho$tage?
Gene: On the face value, Wealthy Ho$tage is a premium store and destination in the heart of Brooklyn for the most premium of footwear and fine apparel for street living. But more than that, Wealthy Ho$tage is a movement. Itâ€™s a lifestyle that transcends gender, race or creed. We continually strive to provide added value to customers in every visit to the store or website.
Format: How long has Weatlhy Ho$tage been around and how did it come about? Why Brooklyn?
Gene: Weâ€™ve been around since 2005. Wealthy Ho$tage came about through a variety of reasons and circumstances. As a native New Yorker and more importantly, Brooklynite, I always felt pride and attachment to the borough that raised me. On the same token, I was always into sneakers and streetwear. This was especially so because my parents owned an old corner sneaker store called â€œSneaker King.â€ That store has been around since the 80â€™s and was the quintessential neighbourhood sneaker spot. I was constantly around sneakers for as far back as I can remember and I loved it.
Wealthy Ho$tage came about due to what I saw as a lack of premium styles and offerings for footwear and streetwear in Brooklyn. I did the whole corporate thing for a bit after I graduated Penn State in â€™04 but found it wasnâ€™t for me. Instead, I chose a career path that enabled my love for the streetwear game to thrive. Itâ€™s the path Iâ€™ve chosen and Iâ€™ve been loving it ever since. Recession or not, the shitâ€™s thrilling!
Format: You have an interesting stock list. For example you have Jordan next to Sperry and 10 Deep next to J. Lindeberg, what kind of approach/philosophy do you take when buying?
City: Well my personal philosophy is that you must buy with versatility, because our customersâ€™ styles are so versatile as well. Our customers are growing and so is our store. We realize that our customers may rock a Crooks shirt and Jordanâ€™s one day and then put on a J.Lindeberg sweater and some Sperry the next. A Customer may buy a couple of fitteds and then turn around and buy some fedoras. No longer can customers be predicted as owning one style. Our customers are eclectic and willing to have many different styles according to how they feel at the time, so we cater to our customers needs. It is this philosophy that I keep in mind when I am buying for our store.
Format: How would you describe your clientele that you get in store?
Gene: Our clientele is as diverse as Brooklyn is and it definitely makes the days interesting. Our neighbourhood of Church Ave, Brooklyn has a large immigrant population from the Caribbean and West Indies so we always try to cater to them. We stock a lot of bright colors, linen apparel, etc. At the same time, there’s been an influx of European and Japanese people moving in to the area too. So we cater to their tastes. And we do this all while looking for the latest and newest styles and fashions so we can educate our customers of new product. It’s a learning process going both directions.
City: I would say that for our neighbourhood, we are breath of fresh air. We offer what cannot be found on the main shopping strip. We pride ourselves in being leaders, as far as fashion, in the neighbourhood. We not only sell clothing, we sell a lifestyle. This is why we host events to have the customers and the brands interact, which creates awareness of what they are all about.
Format: I understand that you have DJs in house and host events. Why do you feel that is an important part of your retail space?
Gene: We do this because we don’t think of ourselves as just a store or a business. Like I said, we’re a lifestyle and part of being a lifestyle company means thinking of new and creative ways to promote ourselves and our partner brands. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
Format: What are some of your favourite products of ’09 thus far? Any brands you excited about for Fall/Winter?
Gene: I think ’09 has been the year of back to basics. We’re bringing in classic and iconic styles such as Chuck Taylors and Keds. The focus of our apparel will be quality tailoring and materials as opposed to screen prints or hype/reputation. I think it’s going to interesting 2010 too.
City: I love the direction that 10 Deep is moving in. They have such a broad spectrum that urban customers seem to be following. Streetwear and contemporary customers all can relate and purchase it. Play Cloths has some great collaborations in the works. I am really excited to see that take off and I am always excited to see what Sabit NYC has to offer as well. Every season they just get better and better!
Format: Do you feel you have gained a following through word of mouth or has your internet presence been more key?
Gene: Honestly, it’s all been word of mouth. In the beginning, we had no marketing budget and never focused on promoting ourselves. We just figured if we provide dope product the people will come. But times change, the recession hit and we’ve been seeing a need for actual marketing. Lately, we’re striving to create internet awareness and presence. I have this belief that during economic downturns, such as now, comes the perfect time to push harder with marketing and promotion. That’s because most others decrease or do away with marketing to cut costs. So, in effect, we have a lot less competition out there trying to create awareness.
Format: Any new developments on the horizon for Weatlhy Ho$tage? And any final words?
There are so many plans that I don’t know where to begin! Overall, we plan to keep doing what we do and do it well. We will work hard and play hard. We will always be at the forefront of premium streetwear in Brooklyn. And we’re aiming at taking over the globe! Peace.
More Info: http://www.wealthyhostagestore.com