Store of the month August 2022: Pepes Mode
Pepes Mode is a men’s fashion store in Bollnäs that recently celebrated a full 40 years and is owned by Stefan “Putte” Alarik and Peter Söderström (pictured left). The assortment is wide and the store places great value on the actual meeting with the customer, which is not least reflected in the fact that the store is now marketed as an “offline store”. In connection with Pepes Mode being named store of the month in August 2022, we had a chat with Petter Söderström, one of the store managers. Below you can read about what it is like to run a store in Bollnäs and Petter’s thoughts on the value of the physical store.
Tell us about Pepe’s Mode, how did it all start?
The story of Pepe’s Fashion began quite exactly 40 years ago. In fact, just this week the store celebrated its 40th anniversary with pomp and circumstance, the year was 1982 when Stefan “Putte” Alarik and Peter Söderström, after working together at another clothing store, chose to start their own. The name comes from the first letters of Peter and Putte respectively and was initially pronounced as Pe-Pes. These gentlemen still own the shop, even though they have been indulging in a lot of free time for some time. If everything goes as planned, the next generation will take over at the end of the year.
What type of products do you sell and what market do you turn to?
It has been to and from over the years, but today we are a pure men’s store. The assortment consists of a carefully selected range with everything from jeans and t-shirts, to suits and ties. As for suppliers, it is a good mix even there. Partly a “cheaper” segment with Bestsellers, Jack & Jones, and Selected Homme in the lead, but also a large selection of, for example, Stenströms, Tiger of Sweden, J.Lindeberg, Morris, Peak Performance, and more. Brands such as Fynch-Hatton and Casa Moda are also represented – and are very much appreciated by our older visitors. Jeans have become a bit of the store’s backbone and there we offer, among others, Lee, Levis, Replay, and Wrangler. The whole basic idea is to have something for everyone, and we have a huge age range for our customers.
Photo: Jocke & Petter, who together take care of the daily operation of the store / Picture from the store
What is the absolute best thing about running a store?
It’s still the customer meeting. With us, service is A and O, and the percentage of customers we help on the way to their purchase is very high. Which we are very proud of! Then it is enormous freedom not to be locked into someone or something. We can do as we want.
What strategy do you have when it comes to the range you buy?
It must be a good mix. The products and brands must complement and highlight each other, and, in our case, it is important that we find things that make the trendy think the store is interesting, while Mr. Svensson should be able to build a wardrobe. It’s not the coolest cats that make our store go around, but they should not dare to pass without throwing in an eye!
What would you say your customers appreciate most when they visit you?
The service combined with the offer. No question about it.
The issue of sustainability is high on the agenda in these times, how is it in your industry and how do you work with sustainability?
It is interesting, the issue of sustainability. It is often a bit contradictory to put fifteen extra notes on a garment to explain how good you are at sustainability. Likewise, to sell (and buy) environmentally conscious stuff with free shipping and free returns. The durable garment is no longer particularly durable if it is to be sent both here and there and washed a few times before someone actually uses it. At the same time, we ourselves are very contradictory, because we love to sell goods. But we believe in helping our customers to make good purchases simply. And it may sound harsh, but then it’s actually up to the end customer. To use their stuff a lot and for a long time we believe is the most sustainable. It’s not just about clothes.
Photo: Johan, Josefin, and Christian who work in the store / Picture from the store
Which would you say is your biggest asset? And what would you say is your biggest challenge?
The customer base is incredible. There are so many who have shopped with us for such a long time. Then Bollnäs is probably quite suitable as a city. Big enough to be able to justify a range but small enough for people to be a little patriotic. It was noticed not least during the pandemic. There were many who “took the opportunity” to make their purchases when the situation was most critical. Many thanks to all of them!
What is your best tip for inspiring the customer?
So honest seeds. Then you must have a little patience. On the next visit, it may have sunk in. Or after a good night’s sleep?
What do you think is the biggest driving force the customer has to want to come and shop in a physical store instead of online?
For us, I largely believe that it is a matter of security. You may not have a very good idea of what is current, but you still care about dressing well. Then you can get help and test yourself a little. Then, as previously mentioned, many are concerned that the stores will remain. The more people who think so, the easier it is to keep a center alive. People are becoming more and more aware of it, and we who have chosen to completely give up online shopping can always hope that on a beautiful day it will be a bit trendy to shop physically.
For some years now, we have chosen to market ourselves as an Offline store and have made a point of not offering online shopping. Whether it is smart or if we slowly but surely dig our own grave is difficult to know, but “Offline trade since 1982” seems to have gone home in the cottages.