Retailer Spotlight: Office Hours.
On our recent west coast road trip, one of our stops was San Luis Obispo: a town on the central coast that is home to one of our newest accounts, Office Hours. Headed up by owner/operator James Fucillo, the store has been open for just under a year now and seeks to bring well-made garments to the residents of SLO as well as the college students who attend the local Cal Poly University. Many of the shops we work with on the wholesale side are privately owned small boutiques that are funded (and staffed) by the shop owners, and as such, every single product that is in the store holds meaning. Swing by Office Hours and ask James some questions about the brands he stocks, and you'll find this to ring especially true. James has a passion for clothing and is excited to use his store to educate, inspire and grow a new customer base in the town that he now calls home.
Were you born and raised in San Luis Obispo?
I was born a few hours east of San Luis Obispo, in a little town on the Merced River at the “Gateway to Yosemite.” I went to College at CalPoly SLO, where I met my wife. After graduating, we lived in the Bay Area for quite a stretch before dragging our family back. Meeting my wife in this town makes me a little biased, but I think it’s a great place to live and the people are fantastic. We’re halfway between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, so perfectly located. When it comes to why we love living here, there are almost too many things to list, but we definitely feel blessed to be living the SLO life.
Tell us a little bit about the journey that brought you to open a specialty men’s retail shop. What got you into clothing originally?
In college I learned that although I’m a creative person, my skill set was better suited to selling the creative works of others. I went to work in the Bay Area during the first “Dotcom” boom and had various sales jobs selling varying amounts of creative works. I started my menswear journey around 2006-2007 in the world of internet forums. My timing was fortuitous, as I was deep into the forum and Tumblr world when things really started to percolate, and I got to check out the Pop Up Flea, Styleforum Events, DenimBruin, & the start of #menswear as it was developing. It was a great time to be interested in men’s style because there were so many sub-groups you could get into and San Francisco has a vibrant IRL/Meetup community to interact with and create friendships around similar interests. But interestingly, what I settled on, and the core belief of the shop is that relationships and a higher level of care (for lack of a better word - HEART) was really lacking in the shopping experience of most towns. So when we moved back to SLO it was a clear message that this is what I should be doing. I’ve been pleased to find that other folks were feeling similarly and the message of our shop strikes a chord.
Your brand mix is deeply personal yet very approachable. What are some of your influences and passions that drew you to the specific brands you stock at Office Hours?
One of my favorite things about the shop is how organic everything has come together, and the brands we carry are no different. So much of what we showcase in the store is because we are so stoked on the people and products they make. From there, we tend to steer our selection to our unique story at Office Hours. San Luis Obispo is a College, Coastal, California town - so our story has always been about clothing that tells that story, in maybe a slightly unexpected way. In the store you might find clothing that has a slight Ivy accent, or a piece reminiscent of older Patagonia, or Mil-Spec pieces with a modern fit or new and interesting color. Although the shop is most certainly a reflection of me and my personal style, I didn’t want to push it. OH is most certainly a balance between what our customers are into and a trail of stylistic breadcrumbs that lead to where they might want to go next.
Now that you’re about a year in, who is your customer, and is it who you expected it to be?
Funny enough, our client is not who I initially thought it would be. Which is not a bad thing and something I was open to. We built out the space with me in mind - somewhere I wanted to spend seven days a week in and would allow the clothes to speak up. We had this rough idea of “what would a gallery of clothing look like?" and what we saw was a place with white walls and subtle/minimalist/industrial shelving and display, where the focus was on the clothing and conversation. But other than that, we were wide open. Our logo & signage, our overall look has been pretty fluid. The shop doesn’t say “Menswear” anywhere. We sell quite a bit to women who want more durable, well-made clothing. We strive to be inclusive and open to being of service to whomever walks in the door. But with that in mind, we seem to have two types of customers: someone who is brand or specific item focused, or someone who is simply looking for a better experience - and we’ve been able to help both those groups. Whether they’re super into the details of shadow selvedge and indigo dyed knits or just tired of buying pants that don’t fit, we’re here to help.
With a name like Office Hours, one would suspect it’s the kind of shop where you can come in and really break down the finer details of what you sell with the shopkeep. What sorts of efforts are you making to help serve and educate your customers?
Yeah, the name is a reference to the window of time college professors set up to chat about a subject on a deeper level. We try to be a resource and much of that just comes from being here and open - both physically & emotionally - to having a longer conversation. So much of retail now is not relational, (do they have self checkout in clothing shops yet, like they do at home depot? I haven’t been to a mall in ages so I wouldn’t know) Then there are stores that really focus deeper: deeper on product, deeper with customers, deeper in the community. That’s where we want to be. We’ve had some success with events like our Denim Swap, where folks swap jeans with others or into the shop for credit toward a new pair, or Shoe Shine Sundays, as well as Wallet Making workshops and Meet the Maker events - to try and dig into the details a bit, and give folks a forum who want to dig deeper.
My specific form of OCD is really getting into the details of everything I’m interested in, whether it’s farm-to-table, third wave coffee, or indigo dyed cotton. I’ve also spent the last 10+ years investigating all tiers of menswear, so I can certainly have a hearty conversation with just about anyone who walks through our doors. Like all learning, personal style is a lifelong journey. It’s been fun to see who joins us on the path.
What are some of your favorite local business that you enjoy supporting? (And did you ever find a good barber?)
SLO is one of those rare places in the US where pride in local business runs through the city. We have small bookshops, one of the best record shops in the country (BooBoo Records), great local restaurants (SideCar, Firestone), a handful of top-notch coffee shops (Scout, Kreuzberg, Le Petit) and the Thursday Farmers Market is one of biggest in the country. The barber story is interesting as there are a lot of great shops in town, but as a father of two boys running a shop 7 days a week it’s not super easy to find someone willing to come in early on my schedule to keep me from going full-on Kramer. I’m always on the lookout.