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Retailer Spotlight: Lone Flag.

Photos: Jackie Wonders

Lone Flag is one of our newest retailers, having just opened up in the fall of 2013. Sam Larson and his wife Kelli have put together a beautiful shop in Del Mar, CA - just outside of San Diego - and although they are new shop owners, they are not new to retail. Before opening Lone Flag, Sam headed up a sales showroom called Made For Good where he sold several specialty brands to boutiques like the one he now runs. In the short time we've been working together, we've found Sam to be an articulate, knowledgeable and friendly individual who cares deeply about his family and friendships. We're certain that these values will aid him and his wife well in their new venture.

Tell us about your shop's neighborhood. Why did you choose this particular location to open up?

Frankly, our shop is in a weird neighborhood for what it is. We're located in a revitalized shopping area in Del Mar, CA (in a small outdoor shopping center) that doesn't necessarily fit our aesthetic at all. I looked around in some other neighborhoods that made more sense on paper, but at the end of the day most of them were downtown and we lived in North County. I felt like it was was disingenuous for us to open up a shop that was far from where we lived and were in daily community (in Encinitas) and Del Mar was close by. An opportunity to open up in Flower Hill in Del Mar came out of nowhere and it was destiny at that point, it really was a direct answer to prayer for us. People are always surprised to see our address in Del Mar, largely because it's always been known for beautiful beaches, horse races, and lots of stuffy rich people in fancy cars. I actually love that dichotomy and the fact that we planted somewhere that doesn't fit where a "cool" shop should be in. We're actively creating the culture here, not jumping into something already existing and I think there's an authenticity to that that also comes with a lot of risk. We literally interact daily with every type and age of person in that shop and that's pretty cool. When I get a 60 year old guy who cruised in wearing sweat pants and a holding a yoga mat to appreciate denim and walk out with a pair because of a conversation in the shop, I love that more than anything here.

Your background is in wholesale sales. What have you learned from your experiences that you hope to bring to Lone Flag? 

My work with brands on the sales level has been such a blessing through the process of getting up and running here at Lone Flag. To start, we opened up and immediately knew the brands we wanted to stock because we'd done shows with those brands and seen them in stores we sold to for years. A lot of those brands had relationships with Vince and I already through the years so it felt so natural for us to contact them and work with them on another retail level. Another huge part was having been in so many great stores through the years as a rep, I knew exactly what I wanted to have our shop be. I loved those places that were owner operated and had a passion for product. You'd walk in and they'd ooze authenticity and were always accommodating (even to us sales reps) and would combine that with the smell, the layout, the warmth of a space. I loved all of that so much. Lastly, I also knew that I wanted to continue on the wholesale sales side and create a vertical brand through the shop and keep fostering my relationships with those stores through that avenue. In March we launch our first vertical capsule collection with Lone Flag and it will be available in a handful of other stores we are partnering with beginning Fall 2014. 

 It looks like there's a conference/meeting room within the shop. What do you use it for?

I think the management for our space initially thought I was crazy for building that out. It was just more square footage to pay for on a lease we'd be stretched thin on but we thought it was really important for the long run. So much of our space was based around community and cups of coffee or beers with reps, brands, partners, etc so we needed somewhere to meet. I was working closely with local San Diego brands Bradley Mountain and Boutonne helping them launch their wholesale side and I really wanted space to collaborate with them on that. I also thought it would be great for all of our friends who were creatives and worked from home to have a place to come and work from if they wanted to be here and hang out during the day. That part of it all has been awesome. 

What are some of your favorite small businesses in your area that you like to support?

San Diego is such an amazing town to live in but we're far behind other cities in adopting a loyalty feeling towards local small businesses so it's just starting now with a small group of people banding together to grow that. The best part of small business is knowing who is behind them and that's what I love about visiting all of these places, every time you're visiting a person behind the business that's a friend. My favorite store in San Diego is Aloha Sunday in North Park. It was started by some great guys and they really created a great space that's been an inspiration for others in town. Given a choice for coffee, I really love  Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park as well. People who love their craft are infectious and these guys just love coffee so you can't help but love it too when you're around them. I carry beans from them and James Coffee in the shop as well which are the two favorite coffees for me local to SD. For footwear and design goods I buy all my gear at Gym Standard, Edwin who owns that store is the nicest dude ever and knows everything about obscure sneakers and design mags. Next door to my shop is a little store called A Workshop Collective and it's a co-work / retail space that houses Mr. B's Luminaries and Rais Case and in that shop they are making candles and also home goods from Pendleton wools. It has a Portland feel to it and the owners are super genuine. Lastly, for the last 10 years I've gotten cocktails and way too many cheap meals from Cap'n Kenos in Encinitas. The last true dive in North County and the owner still lives upstairs and (at times) still makes meatloaf for everyone in the bar. It's legendary. 

Lone Flag
2690 Via De La Valle, Suite D140
Del Mar, CA 92014