The Shop Blog

Storefront Reopening Details May 17 2020

Last week the New Haven Independent (with story and photos by Emily Hays) spoke with myself about how I've been able to transition Strange Ways to solely online sales the past 2 months. Luckily, we've seen great support from locals and customers from all over that have continued to shop with us. This has also helped our business maintain support for the creatives we source our products from, by restocking their items and passing on the cashflow.

We've been keeping our New Haven, CT storefront closed to the public—while continuing to consistently ship out orders every week. For safety measures, this has been the easiest route to streamline things while keeping things going. Even for local customers we turned off In-Store Pickup, but we did reduce the Free Shipping minimum hopefully allowing many people to stay home safely.

Recently Connecticut Governor Lamont announced plans for retail businesses like Strange Ways to reopen on May 20th, with necessary precautions. After assessing the risks, I have decided to have Strange Ways be a part of this phase of business reopenings. However, there are guidelines any customer who wishes to shop in-person must follow. Most of these come from state regulations, while we also kindly ask you to follow some of our own. We will also have reduced hours for the foreseeable future.

We will continue to ship out online orders in a timely manner—even moreso now, reverting back to packing orders almost every day of the week. If any customer wishes to shop with us online still, that is absolutely no problem. Let us ship to you! We also turned back on In-Store Pickup at checkout for all Connecticut customers if they order online. All one has to do is pop in for a few seconds as we hand off your order.

Stay safe, healthy, and smart!

-Alex Dakoulas
Owner & Creative Director




Strange Ways Storefront
Reopening May 20th

Reduced Hours
Open Every Day
10AM–3PM

IN-STORE SHOPPING GUIDELINES
    • All customers absolutely must wear a face covering
    • All employees will be wearing a face covering
    • Limit to 5 customers inside at once
    • Cashless pay preferred (Tap, Apple Pay, Google Pay)
    • Please only touch items you wish to buy, if possible
    • Staff will be disinfecting common touch areas frequently
    • No one should come inside if they feel sick 

 


From The Owner: 5 Years Down February 14 2020



It's already over a month into 2020, and I am just now finding time to write something I've been thinking about since last Autumn. Believe it or not, our little shop is over 5 years old! I launched the online shop in September of 2014, and soon after started doing Pop-Ups around the city of New Haven. Less than a year later we had a signed lease on an official storefront.

Being the owner of such an endeavor like starting your own business (props to all who have done this before) one finds little time to slow down and reflect. Usually you're just trying to tread above water. You want to seize every opportunity. No time should be wasted. You are constantly working. And when you're not working... you're thinking about work.

I will say that's been made easier for me these past years, because I do truly enjoy and find passion in what Strange Ways is about. Our product assortment is one thing, but all the items in our shop—they are me. I often get asked how I pick out what the shop carries. While it's not just out of thin air, a main component is my gut. If I think something is unique or fun or says something I'm drawn to, I buy it and hope others get it too. That “strange” vibe the shop has, it's me. I created a store I would want to shop at and support.

The past 5 years have also been made easier, because Strange Ways does have that support! The customers that seek us out, that spread the word, shop with us, and come to our events: Y'all are awesome. I love that Flair Fair has become a market we do twice a year, and people look forward to it. If I ever feel drained or down on things, that excitement is filled up again with your enthusiasm. I also can't believe some of the early press we received from StyleCaster to Refinery29 to Seventeen Magazine. Is our shop changing the world? No. Do we represent something? I think so. Do we carve a hole for artists, and some underrepresented people? I try to. Is it carrying product that is a bit weird and unique? Absolutely!

I want to say a loving Thank You to the people that get us. We've had an online shop for over 5 years. We've had a storefront for over 4 years. For such a niche product offering, one might think we'd be a trendy flash in the pan (I mean, I never thought so!). But something amazing happened last year. Our sales have gone up—specifically in-store. The online shop and storefront build off each other in a nice, symbiotic way. We've increased open hours to accommodate visitors. (We're open every day of the week now!) And to let you in on a little secret, we're looking to expand...

When I started Strange Ways, I knew people were making cool stuff. I knew others would connect with it. I thought maybe customers would want to support it even! But truly, the shop has outgrown my dreams of where it would be. I can't wait to see where else it goes, and I hope you continue to stick along with me for this strange ride.

Alex Dakoulas
Founder & Creative Director

PS - Here is an interview video from about 3 years ago when we were starting out. Look how different the shop looks!


From The Owner: A Reflection For 2018 January 02 2018



Alex here, Owner & Creative Director of Strange Ways. I spent the first workday of 2018 getting back into the more normal flow of things now that the holiday rush is over. It’s been a weird adjustment, because the shop has grown larger than I ever expected it to. There is not much “normal routine” lately because as Strange Ways grows new tasks, challenges, and projects are put onto the table.


What started out as a passion for showcasing what I’d want to buy, create, and share has turned into a buzzing spot for creative entrepreneurs and DIY-minded individuals to connect with. We’ve been picked up by major publications and we regularly ship packages all over the world. We had our largest sales ever just last month!

The craziest thing is—I can live off the shop. To be able to survive off of something I built was always a dream. I started my own business so I could be my own boss, make my own hours, and earn my own money. I thank you all for allowing me to do just that, while putting money into hustling artists as well. By shopping with us your dollars hit everyone dearly.

It’s been over 3 years since Strange Ways began, and this year is not letting down. I can’t wait to show you new product, collaborate with people I look up to, put on more fun events, and travel to other cities. Strange Ways has grown as online destination, a storefront, and as a brand.

Thank you again for all the support, and keep watching. I’ll try to keep surprising, delighting—and maybe mildly offending you—in the year to come. 😜🍾

Alex Dakoulas
Founder & Creative Director


From The Owner: Welcome To Our Strange World September 18 2014



Hello all you strangers out there,

Welcome to Strange Ways! I hope it becomes the destination for you when you're looking for a new piece of clothing, a unique gift or just want to be inspired by what some cool people are making. Check in here before you stop by the mall; I promise you'll find something more interesting. You'll also be supporting small brands, independent artists/designers and entrepreneurs. We want to offer you the same professionalism as those big guys, but with more compelling product.

The thought for this shop has been long in the making. I've dreamed about starting up one ever since I began printing my own t-shirts in college. The idea of having control over a space that I can showcase my little slice of life always sounded amazing. I never thought that day would come so soon, but I just turned 30, moved to a new city and all the stars just seem to have aligned.

I think coming to this has been a natural progression. I went to school for graphic design; graduating from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. During my time there I took a wide breadth of classes from film to photography to screenprinting to, obviously, design. I've always been very interested in many mediums—which at the time was very daunting, but I'm actually finding to be quite advantageous as the owner and frontrunner of this shop.

My biggest draw always came from working on lifestyle products. I love making things that people connect with and see themselves in. While in school I started designing graphic tees and selling them. I wanted to express myself, but figured maybe other people might relate to them too. Turns out they did. I even won a school award for my designs and I wholeheartedly think these t-shirts are what got me my first real job.

Right after college I began working for Converse (as in Chuck Taylors) in their footwear design department. I created not just graphics and shoes, but learned a whole lot about materials, color choices and product design. I stayed there for almost 5 years and it was truly a defining period of my life where I learned so much about product and business. I met some of the most talented and authentic group of people there as well, where we both learned and played. I would also go on to work for Puma in a very similar role as my job at Converse. Both jobs taught me a lot about work ethic, timelines and not just the U.S. market, but the world and the trends that fly around it.

Congruently while having a corporate job, I wanted to satisfy my personal creativity. For about 5 years I also ran a graphic apparel line called Dance Party Massacre. Now, if you love 80s slasher movies or popular culture you would have also loved our clothing. With a theme dubbed "party horror" I created a niche for myself and the brand. While having a big wig job allowed me to learn from the system, running my own brand allowed me to learn from practice. I was able to bring in some amazing illustrators and talent to help me as the brand grew, until eventually I became more for a creative director.

Coming from a hands-on designer background, stepping into the more conceptual and task-oriented role of creative director was actually pretty smooth. To me, a great product comes from what it stems from or what it represents. When I was designing shoes or t-shirts, I wasn't selling that item; I was selling what on that item says about the person who wears it. I love working on things for people to connect with. I truly believe that what we choose to buy, wear, put in our homes, etc. is a representation of who we are. And I love it when something I had a hand in making (even if it's just collecting it all into one spot), a stranger can see themselves in too.

Curating and helping develop the items that Strange Ways carries also connects me to the makers behind it. I really enjoy collaborating with others, and I get as much pleasure out of developing concepts than I do in actually putting my hand to paper. This shop allows me to do more by utilizing and showcasing other people's talents, and I think it'll really help widen what can be accomplished. The fact that we can also give lesser known people or brands a larger platform is the icing on top. More independent creators also tend to put out more interesting product; not tied to the standards of commercial consumption. Their work says something; it has a voice and a style. That's the stuff I want to be a part of.

I hope that this new shop is the start of something great. I hope you find Strange Ways to be unique and cool enough that you want to keep coming back, and that you want to share it with friends. I want to not only work with the makers of the items we carry, but the people that buy it too. Feel free to drop me a line anytime. Welcome to our strange little world.

Alex Dakoulas
Founder & Creative Director