Member of the Month November 2022: Sambo Luleå
In Luleå, the store Sambo has been run by Ann-Helen Johansen since 2005, and in November we at the Stockholm Fashion District named them Store of the Month.In the interview with Ann-Helen below, you can read more about the store’s range, their biggest challenge, and how they can be at the forefront by adapting to the customer’s needs and wishes.
Tell us about Sambo, how did it all start?
We started 17 years ago with a lot of courage, a strong will, and a large helpful family supporting us. I have a background as a seamstress and am very interested in the creation process itself, but there is also a need for working with people and finding solutions – preferably at a pleasant, but fast pace.
What type of products do you sell at Sambo?
We sell women´s and men´s clothing. We choose brands that feel trendy and affordable, as well as have good values and working methods.
What is the absolute best thing about running a store?
It’s enjoyable! I have nice customers and nice colleagues. The times and challenges shift, and over time we develop the store and create new ways of working. It makes me proud that we have a workplace where there is job satisfaction, creativity, and innovation. As well as that both customers and staff feel good and thrive with us. Different abilities bring exciting new thoughts and make us stronger.
What kind of strategy do you have when it comes to the assortment that you buy in?
We choose brands that feel good. We invest in long-term collaborations and try to create a good mix of base clothing and clothes that stand out, which you don’t see in many other places. We also focus on stylish matches that make it easy for the customer to find complete outfits. The girls who work with me are talented and they get to take responsibility to make their own purchases for the store, as well as arranging live shopping events. They are given responsibility and are doing a great job.
Photo: Ann-Helen and her team
What would you say your customers appreciate the most when they visit Sambo?
The experience, I hope. We offer a good reception and an exciting selection. Our live shopping event has also been appreciated and has allowed us to maintain closer customer contact even with customers from different geographic locations. We are flexible and accommodate the customers’ wishes. During the pandemic, we have for example worked with collections that we loan to workplaces, where people have been able to look at the garments on their lunch break and place an order, which we carried out. We have also offered bookings after opening hours for those who belong to a risk group and needed time to watch in peace and quiet.
The issue of sustainability is high on the agenda these days, how is it in your industry and how do you work with sustainability?
A big and important question, we have an obligation to influence where we can! Our store interior consists of recycled wood, together with tables from a local joinery and some vintage purchases. It is unique and sturdy, while at the same time it will last long. We have stopped using plastic and instead, we buy “non-woven” bags. When it comes to sustainability, quality is an important aspect. Partly that is good materials that really last, but also how the garments are produced. As far as we can, we buy BCI branded jeans, Ecovero viscose, and recycled polyester. However, we need to constantly improve!
What would you say is your greatest asset? And what would you say is your biggest challenge?
Our biggest asset is our talented staff, the good location of the store, and our live shopping events! Our biggest challenge for the store this autumn is the economic situation in the country. In the middle of the crisis, I think about trying to keep a distance from what is real stress and what is not. I think of those who really experience war up close and the stress it must entail. Our setbacks are manageable in comparison.