What is Z-Life? At first glance it appears to be an ultra-hip & trendy Men's boutique that has the very best in denim, accessories and kicks, but when you look a little deeper, you quickly see it's much, much, more than that. As the Retro Brand Retailer of the Month for May, I take that closer look in my interview with the man who puts the Zing in the Z-Life Denim Lounge, owner Adam Zuckerman.
Andy: I love the wide selection of jeans & accessories in Z-Life, but it's the Lemon Heads and Fireballs that caught my eye. What's up with that?
Adam: I am an old school guy who simply wanted to have an environment in the store that would make my customers comfortable. Having several candy jars filled with favorites from your childhood immediately gives the customer a feeling that they're in a happy place and makes the shopping experience that much more enjoyable. More importantly, the kids love it. We also have games for the kids to play with while their parents browse.
Andy: Can I say brilliant? What other nuances do you feel add to the Z-Life experience that make it stand out from other Mens boutiques?
Adam: As people who have become regulars in the community would tell you, while I have a very low pressure sales approach, I have a very aggressive relationship approach. In the five years we've been here, I've had the pleasure of seeing kids grow through their High School years and head off to college. By getting to know so many families personally, I know what school this son or that daughter will be attending, and I make sure to stock my t-shirt shelves with those schools.
That is just one example that shows my customers know that I'm honestly more interested in helping them out & getting to know them and their needs, then simply closing a sale. Retail is in my blood - It's who I am, and my customers know my dedication and passion.
Andy: You just don't find that kind of attentiveness enough these days. I know from my own shopping experiences that fakery and high pressure never work, and I HATE shopping. The informal poll taken in my head presumes most men feel the way I do. Am I right? Since you cater mostly to men (70% Mens apparel 30% Womens), how do you handle the apathy?
Adam: I'd say your partially right. I prefer to say that men don't want to shop in a women's store, and women will shop anywhere. Most men like to shop quickly, get in - get out, but are open to advice and talking about sports. I'm a huge sports fan so it makes it easy to converse with them (and the women for that matter) whether it's what's currently happening in the world of sports, or more often than not, the good old days. There is a huge flat screen TV in the store programmed to ESPN most of the time (I'll change to Nickelodeon for the kids, or anything else a customer might want to see) and I have several sports books and magazines that get referenced on a regular basis. Of course the vintage Retro Brand shirts always get the conversation about sports going, which is one of the things I love about the brand.
Andy: So between your one-on-one valuable input, the old school candy, ESPN, and Retro Brand vintage shirts, suddenly shopping isn't so terrible. Thanks for the compliment too. What are some of the other things you love about Retro Brand?
Adam: I promise I'm not saying this just because you're doing a story on Z-Life, but when it comes to buying product for the store, there is nothing more enjoyable then sitting down with Marc (Marc Herman, CEO of Retro Brand) and going through the treasure trove of vintage Retro Brand graphics and talking sports. So many of the logos and graphics conjure up great sports memories of my time growing up and events that customers my age remember. Not only do the older customers feel a positive connection with the shirts, but the younger kids are genuinely fascinated to learn what they're about as well. Retro Brand also allows me to be very timely in the shirts I buy - from the NCAA Final Four, to spring break, to the Stanley Cup Finals. Buying mens denim and womens blouses may pay the bills, but not nearly as fun.
Andy: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?
Adam: As you may have guessed, it's the relationships I've been lucky enough to have fostered over the years. I truly cherish them. I've found a comfortable niche in a fantastic community. Also when I hear a customer say something like "This is a great store!"
Another part of the job that's pretty rewarding is being able to get up every morning and throw on a crisp pair of plaid shorts, a Retro Brand vintage shirt, and my favorite pair of sneakers and head into the store. That's me. That's rewarding.
Andy: That is awesome, and you are awesome for taking the time to speak with me today. Thank you!
To learn more about Z-Life denim Lounge, you can visit them online here.
We highly recommend stopping in the store if you are ever in the Rye Brooke, NY area. You know Adam and his staff will treat you right.
138B South Ridge Street.
Rye Brook, New York 10573
store phone: 914-937-5433 (life)