Just one day after their wedding, on May 8, 1994, Robert looked at a business for sale on Sanibel Island. Robert had been an entrepreneur all of his life and convinced himself that buying a business on Sanibel was a sound idea. According to Robert, the only thing better than honeymooning on Sanibel was buying a business while honeymooning on Sanibel. As it turns out he was right. The business they originally set out to purchase wasn't the right business for them after all. However, their broker quickly suggested another business for sale: a swimwear store.
Robert immediately told the broker they were interested in the swimwear store. He simply looked at himself with a surprised look, and asked himself if he knew anything about swimwear. The fact is, he knew absolutely nothing about swimwear, but that is the beauty of the story. Not only were they thinking outside the box, they were clueless on what was actually in the box. They thought, how hard can it be to sell swimwear?
Before their honeymoon on Sanibel came to an end, Robert became the new owner of SoldOut Swimwear, a little 1,300 square foot island store founded in 1974. Robert rolled up his sleeves and quickly got to work giving SoldOut Swimwear an entirely new customer centric look and feel. They immediately eliminated low quality vendors and inventory, and sought to expand by offering a wide selection of only high quality name brand swimwear. Their goal was to make swimwear shopping a more pleasant and hassle-free experience for their customers.
Robert followed six months later after tying up a few loose ends back home. At this point it was Season on Sanibel Island, and Season on Sanibel Island meant the store was full of fabulous swimwear and customers. SoldOUt has always been known for their wide selection, boasting thousands of suits for customers to choose from. It was an institution on the island, with people waiting for the store to open each morning. Customers were like kids in a candy store, excited about making their swimwear purchases. Robert was a little envious, as shopping for swimwear has never been one of his favorite things to do, and here were all these women, all shapes and sizes, undertaking the task with gusto. Could selling swimwear be this easy?
How hard can it be to sell swimwear? As it turns out selling swimwear is as difficult, as buying swimwear. About a month into their new career, Robert found out just how challenging being a successful swimwear retailer was, when he discovered a woman crying in the fitting room. This was the first emotional incident, but not the last. It was a turning point in Robert's new career, as he quickly discovered how difficult it is for women to purchase swimwear. From tears to anger, swimwear shopping can bring out the worst in each of us. Women are so critical, too critical, of themselves. Robert realized that while there were some women who loved buying swimwear, there were even more women who had difficulties with the process. In fact, women hate it so much, that half the women in North America and Europe never even buy a suit, just to avoid the hassle!
After that fateful revelation, Robert and his sister Liz made the decision to learn everything they could about swimwear. Their goal was to make the swimsuit shopping experience a positive one for ALL women. They began by learning the emotional, physical, and psychological issues a woman faces when shopping for swimwear, and discovered swimsuits are much like a woman's body. Each come in many different sizes, shapes, and styles.
Robert invested in providing on-going rigorous training for his staff to make sure personal attention and care is given to their customers. They take the time to learn about each of their customer's needs and help fit her with the right swimsuit for her individual body type and size. Swimwear features are all about enhancing or camouflaging. Staff can assist customers in selecting suits that support and minimize her bust, show off her cleavage, trim her tummy, cover her rear, or show off her rear.
Robert's revelation as being the key to the company's success and expansion. The Beach House Swimwear, now known as SoldOut Swimwear, had grown to include several store locations throughout Florida, Arizona, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their new and updated online store is attracting customers near and far.