Scott Kuhlman’s eponymous store sits on one of the most Seattle-feeling stretches of Belltown. El Gaucho, the Ace Hotel, Cyclops restaurant are contemporary icons; nearby, Local 360 seems poised to become the same. The boutique itself can outfit them all. For women, there’s usually an urban-edged unkempt boho thing happening; for men there’s a classic, vaguely British, buttoned-up but rule-free vibe. Brands like Penguin are all about carrying on in traditional style—in the best way. In that same vein: hats. If head coverings make a comeback, we’ll credit Kate Middleton and Kuhlman. Key to the shop’s success: on-site tailoring. Kuhlman and company have made the service a priority even in their small quarters. Here, three minutes with assistant manager Erika Phipps.
WWW: What song is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
Phipps: What we play depends on who is at the store; it could be jazz or 80s rock, but right now we are loving Mumford & Sons, and Adele.
What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
My first job in retail was at a women’s boutique in Ellensburg. I loved having regular clientele that I can help, and my least favorite part of the job was on those slow days when only a handful of customers would come in. At Kuhlman, I have a lot more responsibilities with my job which I absolutely love, everything from helping customers to dealing with sales reps and shopping for new merchandise for the store, receiving the new merch and setting up our fabulous visual displays.
What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
For women, I love all of the new spring/summer dresses we are getting in from various vendors, the Skunkfunk line is by far one of my favorites because their pieces are the biggest and brightest for women! For men it’s all about the button down shirt, whether it’s to go with a suit or just to wear around town. All of our men’s lines have definitely brought their A-game when it comes to these shirts. Our bow ties are a close second, we have a lot of fun colors and prints in those too!
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
The weirdest thing that I know of that’s happened at Kuhlman would be when a man came in for alterations and dropped trou in the middle of the store, he didn’t even go into the fitting room! Guess some people don’t have any problem with public nudity.