Welcome to Retail Czar, a cool, modern website with a new philosophy in shopping. Founded during the Covid 19 pandemic by a group of leading retail and e-tail experts from New York’s fashion scene, Retail Czar is on a mission to bring exciting new brands, vendors and a whole new shopping experience from a distinctly New York POV.
Long before the pandemic hit, consumers were rejecting the traditional brick and mortar luxury model for a more convenient, non-judgmental, online shopping experience. When the virus struck, and entire countries went into lockdown mode, customers had little choice. They embraced the 24-hour accessibility and quarantine-friendly nature of online. Food, fashion and everything in between was ordered from home while physical, ‘non-essential’ stores, factories and businesses were ordered to close.
The optimists at Retail Czar saw this as a huge opportunity. By combining their experience in buying, merchandising and marketing; leveraging their industry contacts and social networks, and leaning into their DNA as entrepreneurial, resilient New Yorkers, they created something that didn’t exist – a New York specialty store exclusively for digital consumers.
The challenges were daunting, but not insurmountable. The city was then the ‘epicenter of the epicenter’ of the pandemic. Critical parts of the supply chain, including vendor factories, showrooms, and wholesale operations were temporarily closed or in some cases shuttered for good. Trade shows, travel, in-person meetings and non-essential activities and gatherings were banned or severely restricted. Unemployment was way up and consumption, including retail sales, way down. But this did not deter the quarantined Retail Czar pioneers who used lock down time productively to remotely strategize, research and develop their vision. “Our goal was to create an online version of the ultimate New York neighborhood specialty store,” says company president Tom Ott, “with an amazing assortment across women’s and men’s fashion, accessories, shoes, beauty, and, increasingly importantly, home. I really believe that without the pandemic, bringing the talent and creativity together to develop and launch Retail Czar would not have been possible. I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in such a short space of time.”
Tom and another of the original founding members, SVP of Merchandising, Merrill Hollander, are both profiled in this inaugural issue of the Czar Report. Their stories are inspirational, entertaining and well worth reading. And in the coming weeks, we’ll profile other key players at Retail Czar, so please check the site regularly for future updates.
Even before opening on September 3rd, 2020, the reaction to the venture was very encouraging. Interest from within the industry was intense. The fashion press, tired of reporting a seemingly unending litany of doom and gloom - retail layoffs, high-profile bankruptcies and a staggering volume of store closures - were eager to publish good news for a change. Vendors, accustomed to bracing for inevitably bad news from retailers, were overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic.
That’s all great, but the only reaction that really counts is the one from you, the Retail Czar customer. As you will find out if you regularly visit the site, Retail Czar is much more than a shopping destination for the latest fashion and related items. We are hosting a calendar of virtual events, trunk shows and personal appearances by our vendors for Czar fans to engage with us and our incredible vendor community, learn more about these brands and their stories, and be advised by experts on the best looks and products for their wardrobes and lifestyles. We encourage you to come back often as we add new collections, vendors and content, and engage you with thoughtful editorial, emails and social media posts about everything Retail Czar.
Now that our original founders’ vision has come to fruition, and our virtual doors are open for business, we cordially invite you to get comfortable, check out our site, and discover what’s great about Retail Czar.
PS You are the reason Retail Czar exists. We’d love your feedback. Please send your comments and suggestions to Shop@retailczar.com.