Retailer of the Week
Eddy Chai, co-owner of men's boutique Odin in New York
05 Feb. 2014
Eddy Chai & Paul Birardi, owners, Odin, NYC, USA
Named after the Allfather of the Norse gods, Odin is a New York-based multibrand men’s boutique founded in autumn 2004 by Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi. “We wanted to create a men's specialty boutique that offered an eclectic mix of emerging and established designers,” the pair says. Today they have done just that with an enviable brand mix that spans from 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone and Robert Geller to Todd Snyder, White Mountaineering and an eponymous in-house brand. There are currently three Odin stores in the city. Interview by Christopher Blomquist
How big are the three different locations and is the merchandise mix different in each store?
The East Village and West Village locations are boutique in size and atmosphere as they are both under 900 sq. feet [84 sq. meters]. The Lafayette Street location is the largest at a little under 2,000 sq. feet [186 sq. meters]. This SoHo location has a large assortment of designers and items but we might have a handful of designers that are unique to both the East and West Village locations.
Paul Birardi, co-owner, men's boutique Odin
What we like about our customer is the unique range, varying in style, age, profession and sensibility. It's this amalgamation that makes our customers unique.
How do you keep in touch with your customers?
In this age of electronic outreach, we think it's a way to reach more people instantaneously, but sometimes at the expense of having that personal connection. The relationship with our customers is a special relationship that has them returning but we have to make sure we meet these expectations, whether it be through our offerings or the service we provide.
What are the biggest challenges and advantages of being an independent retailer in NYC today?
NYC is the biggest stage for many areas of commerce, art and culture but because of this, all eyes are on you and there's a tremendous amount of competition, not only in the city but throughout the world.
Where do you find new brands and merchandise?
There's no simple answer but you have to be prepared for anywhere.
How important is the atmosphere/décor in the brick-and-mortar shops and what is yours like?
It's extremely important. You are really unveiling yourself in the atmosphere and décor. Regardless of how we change the store, be it through installations or fixtures, the most important feeling we wish to impart is one that is masculine and comfortable with a subtle sense of mystery.
What is the most expensive piece you stock? And the least expensive?
It varies season to season.
What are some "golden rules" of retailing that every store owner needs to follow?
Do not chase trends or be concerned with what others are doing … have a voice and perspective and be confident with them.
What sets Odin apart from other boutiques in the city?
You'll have to ask our customers.
Odin Flagship (SoHo)
199 Lafayette Street
New York, NY USA
+1 212 966 0026
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