In 2011, four recent college graduates took 25 pairs of men’s short shorts they had designed to a California beach to see how well they might sell.
“People came over to us, and we sold out in two hours,” says Chubbies’ co-founder Tom Montgomery, chief marketing officer and chief technology officer.
“That’s when we knew there was something visceral here. We loved our short shorts, but lots of people also really got it. They liked that retro California feel. That enabled us to be a little irreverent, a little crazy and to launch with a product we loved.”
Today, Chubbies is a retail/manufacturing company with 11 stores, a website and legions of followers on social media, the brand’s major marketing vehicle. Its product mix has expanded into lounge wear, sportswear, outerwear and sleep wear.
The stores range from southern California to Washington, D.C., ranging in size from approximately 900 square feet to about 2,500 square feet. There is no standard prototype, but certain features are a constant, including tiki bars, electronic games, media screens and comfortable places.
“We want customers to feel like they’re at a weekend barbecue,” Montgomery says. “Everyone is greeted as they come in.”
Being a niche player in a retail world full of big brand players meant Montgomery and his co-founders realized they had to be as “scrappy as we could be.”
That meant “creating funny, irreverent content for Facebook and other social media, as well as media content for the stories playing on screens inside our stores.”
Chubbies uses its own digital mapping technology as well as customer feedback to choose store locations.
“Our mission is to get as close to a one-to-one basis with our customers as possible,” Montgomery says.
— Liz Parks
Founders: Kyle Hency, Rainer Castillo, Preston Rutherford and Tom Montgomery