"A Restless Streetwear Designer Finds a Brick-and-Mortar Niche"
January 15, 2016
Tyler Wichmann, 28, can’t believe he’s setting up his first brick-and-mortar store in East Sacramento, the same neighborhood where he toddled around McKinley Park for Tiny Tot Time and later biked to neighborhood stores for cool treats on hot summer days.
For four years now, Wichmann has been selling his Timeless Thrills line of high-end streetwear online and at boutique retailers such as Sacramento’s Getta Clue and Blaq Boutique in El Dorado Hills. His dream, however, has been to open stores of his own.
On Saturday, the dream will come true for Wichmann with a soft opening of his Timeless Thrills shop at 3714 J St. The formal grand opening will be Jan. 23, and he will not only be selling products he designed but teaming up for a special release with William Thompson, an amateur photographer popular on the social media site Instagram.
“We’re taking one of his photos of the Tower Bridge and we’re printing it on T-shirts, and hopefully … we’ll be able to display some of his photography and sell the shirts. That’s one of the big things I’m trying to do with this space – not just run a flagship store for the brand but collaborate with local artists, local musicians, local photographers and other local brands. I’d like to do lots of in-store events and pop-up shops with other people in the community.”
There have been many occasions, Wichmann said, when he wanted to team up with other people in the community and do a big release party for a product, but he didn’t have the space to do it. He has run the business out of his home since he put his first shirts up for sale on Facebook on Nov. 1, 2011. They featured the brand’s signature slogan: “Stay Timeless Catch Thrills.”
The concept of online sales came naturally to Wichmann when he started his business. As a child, he had worked with his father, Jeff Wichmann, who owns an online auction business for antique bottles. The younger Wichmann would take photos of the products to include in newsletters and later on the company website, and he would type up product descriptions that his father dictated to him.
As a tween, Wichmann also used eBay to recoup the money that he shelled out to buy the latest pair of Michael Jordan’s signature sneakers.
“Dad would take me down to Downtown Plaza Foot Locker, and I would wait in line,” Wichmann said. “I would get a pair (of shoes) in my size and a pair of size 9 and size 10. I’d take them home and put them on eBay. I’d take the photos and do the descriptions and I would make my money back, essentially, for the shoes I bought.”
As he was trying to get Timeless Thrills going, Wichmann said, he leaned heavily upon the skills he had learned as a child. He also taught himself how to do Web development, he said, but the one thing Wichmann didn’t feel so comfortable with when he started was graphic design. So he hired artists to produce the ideas in his head.
Slowly, he gained proficiency with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and other software, and he began designing his own graphics. Since Wichmann has never liked the hang tags at the back of shirts, he said, he hired contractors to print Timeless Thrills labels inside his hoodies, T-shirts and other apparel.
Then he noticed that those labels were fading or printing, so he bought his own heat-press machines and started doing that work himself as well. His attention to every detail of the design, manufacturing and distribution process has been rewarded, he said. While sales were flat in 2013, they grew by 10 percent in 2014 and 15 percent in 2015, he said. Roughly 30 percent of his apparel sells to buyers outside California.
Still, Wichmann said, he hasn’t seen enough of a profit yet to quit work as a salesman for a local vaccine maker. The good news, though, is that Timeless Thrills has the cash flow to pay its bills and has no debt.
Wichmann and his longtime girlfriend, Jessica Gregorio, married in October, he told me, and they have purchased a home in East Sacramento. They and their friends have done most of the work to renovate the new Timeless Thrills space that emphasizes simplicity, minimalism and functionality.
Wichman said he feels that Timeless Thrills has built enough loyalty and brand recognition that customers will want a spot where they can look at everything he has to offer. Brick-and-mortar retail outlets allow consumers of all ages to share the shopping experience with friends, retail experts say, and often, teens and young adults want the approval of friends before they make a purchase.