1088 W. Marine Corps Dr., Dededo
By Julius Cantara
Tropical T-Shirts is a locally owned alternative-wear retail store that provides a diverse selection of T-shirts, posters, CDs, DVDs, belts, key chains and other accessories. The store’s apparel feature popular bands and characters from anime, cartoons, video games and movies. The shop is located on the second floor of Micronesia Mall.
The store was opened in 1996 by Rachel Bruschi and was originally an island-wear retail store. Around 2001, Bruschi passed ownership of the shop to her two daughters, Amanda Bruschi and Christina Coles. The island wear was moved to the adjacent Royal Hibiscus, which is run by Coles. Tropical T-Shirts is now managed by Amanda Bruschi, who spoke with Guam Business on her choice of merchandise for the store and on the store’s August expansion.
What brands and merchandise do you have available?
We carry brands such as Manic-Panic, which is hair dye, we have JanSport school bags, and we just started carrying Akumu Ink, which is a brand of character T-shirts. We also have various band T-shirts and music T-shirts. We also have character T-shirts from video games like Call of Duty, Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed, Pokémon, some anime shirts and [shirts featuring] Star Wars, DC and Marvel.
What are your most popular items?
The popular ones are, of course, DC and Marvel. They always sell the best for us. And then Star Wars would be next and then Pokémon as well as Hello Kitty. We started bringing in mugs and pool floats, and those have been doing pretty well.
What is the store’s target customer demographic?
Our target demographic is everybody; we basically have something for anybody who comes in. Most stores cater to tourists, whereas we cater to tourists, military, local and even older customers who come in to shop for CDs.
How do you choose merchandise that is sold in the shop?
My staff and I just go through different distributors and wholesalers that we like, then we pick which products would target our customers the best.
The customers do bring in a lot of ideas about what kind of merchandise to get, and we try to accommodate all of our customers. We get a new shipment every two weeks.
When is your peak time of year for sales?
Our peak time of the year would have to be the end half of the year [starting in June], and then it gets really great starting in October for Halloween when people are buying stuff for Halloween festivities and then all the way to Christmas when everyone is buying gifts.
What was the reason for the recent store space expansion?
We’ve always wanted to expand. Before, the store was very crowded and we couldn’t really bring in the stuff that we wanted to bring in, so now with the extra space we are able to open the store up and bring in more brands.
Luckily, the space right next to us was open so we grabbed it, and the customer response has been great. It’s not as crowded as before, so people can take their time and look through our selection.
What do you think makes the store a success?
Obviously, our customers because without them we would not be in business, but I think it also has something to do with the employees. Our employees work really hard, and they do everything in the background.
What sort of feedback do you receive from customers?
Our customers love the store. Because we cater to everybody, a lot of people come in and love the products that we carry. We are also getting people who have not been in here before and have just walked passed us. [After the expansion] they notice us now, and they are excited for the products that we sell.
Do you have any future plans for the shop?
Probably nothing I can talk about right now, but we do have a lot of stuff we are planning. We are exploring different options. We are looking for other products to bring in and possibly other services we can do, which our customers have been asking for.
Maybe one day we’ll have another store in another mall. I really do hope we can expand this business and make ourselves very well-known on this island.