Pssst. How much fun are your socks? If they’re not from Woodsock, chances are they could be even better. Yes, it’s a store devoted entirely to socks, those useful and often-overlooked fashion essentials. These socks are utterly unlike the drab, serviceable socks we so often accept in life. On the merchandise at Woodsock, pigs fly and ninjas leap. These are socks full of attitude.
“We endeavor to bring some color and levity to people’s lives with the most fun and fabulous novelty socks around.”
How did Woodstock’s Tinker Street come to have an emporium that (thus far) deals exclusively in socks? It’s the brainchild of Roman Schreiner and Richard Baran, who met in Manhattan 17 years ago and built lives and careers there, Richard as an acupuncturist and Roman in corporate retail. Like so many, they needed an escape hatch, and found that the escape gradually became a part of “real,” everyday life.
These socks are utterly unlike the drab, serviceable socks we so often accept in life.
“Both of us had visited friends in Woodstock and loved its proximity to the city, scenic beauty, and vibrant arts community, so we started looking for a place up here,” says Roman. “In 2008, we closed on our first house and were weekenders for eight years before I moved up here full-time in 2016, with Richard coming up every weekend.”
You can take the man out of the busy, but it proved impossible to take the busy out of the man. “I had a long career in corporate retail with progressively increasing responsibility and stress,” Roman says. “While I hate the term ‘burned out,’ that’s what I was. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to leave the corporate world and move up full-time to my favorite corner of the world, but had too much time on my hands.
Starting a business was a logical next step in our journey. It gave us both the opportunity to do some of the things we do best-I know the retail operations, customer service, and merchandising angles, and Richard has the necessary sense of design and aesthetics to create a one-of-a-kind, fun, and stylish shopping destination.”
“I am in retail for a reason-I love people. I also have fun playing DJ with the music in the store throughout the day, and I get to wear really fun socks.”
They wanted to open a shop together, but what? “The sock idea was relatively random,” says Roman. “We tossed around a lot of ideas for starting a business and, on a road trip out West, wandered into a novelty sock shop in Albuquerque. After walking out with a shopping bag full of socks for friends and family, a light bulb went on above Richard’s head.…”
The more the two honed in, the more they realized they made natural business partners. “I had opened and operated multiple retail locations in my career,” says Roman. “Richard was able to utilize his pre-acupuncture background in interior design, specifically for some well-known night clubs in the city, to design and build out our shop. Our left-brain, right-brain disparity has contributed to us being great partners from the beginning, respecting and trusting each other’s areas of expertise. We started shopping real estate locations, coming up with display ideas and buying a lot of socks.”
On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Woodsock opened its doors to the amusement and delight of visitors and locals alike. Word spread quickly. “We focused on visibility—to have as strong a presence on Tinker Street as possible, making sure that if people were looking for us they could find us, and folks driving or walking down the street would know that if they wanted fun socks, this was the place,”
“We are proudly gay-owned and operated, and fly the Stars and Stripes and a Pride flag at the shop every day.”
Roman says. “We found an awesome sign maker and employed some tried-and-true tactics to increase visibility with flags and a sandwich board. Our marketing strategy also includes a mix of print and online advertising, and a robust social media and SEO campaign.” Woodsock and Woodstock are a natural fit, thanks to Roman and Richard’s intuitive understanding of what kind of sock shop the town needed. “We endeavor to bring some color and levity to people’s lives with the most fun and fabulous novelty socks around,” says Roman. “This is reflected in our buying strategy by steadily increasing our selection of socks and regularly introducing new brands. Offering friendly and very genuine customer service has been an overriding priority since we opened our doors—making tourists and visitors feel wanted and welcome, and building relationships with the locals as they discover the new sock shop in town. We are proudly gay-owned and operated, and fly the Stars and Stripes and a Pride flag at the shop every day.”
Socks make such great gifts because every time you put the socks on, you think of the person who gave them to you.” –Richard Baran, co-owner
And most every day is a good day when you’re doing what you love. “Our customers make every day enjoyable,” says Roman. “I am in retail for a reason—I love people. I also have fun playing DJ with the music in the store throughout the day, and I get to wear really fun socks.”
More socks are being added to the lineup constantly (Roman lists “reading sock catalogs” as a thing he does for fun), and—as you’d expect-especially at holiday time. “We have several exciting new brands that we will be introducing for the holiday season,” says Roman. “Last year exceeded expectations, so we are working hard, building our sock offerings even further, and will also be adding a few non-sock items to our offerings—no spoilers!”
It is hard to imagine a better wintertime gift than the perfect novelty socks.
Tasteful and yet warm, cozy, and personal. “Socks make such great gifts because every time you put the socks on, you think of the person who gave them to you,” Richard observes.
Woodsock’s offerings include Michele Obama socks, Shakespeare socks, socks with bees and cats and dancing dolphins, and Conscious Step socks, which help to support causes like tree planting, literacy, and ocean protection. And now that Woodstock has Woodsock, they’re not shy about making special requests: yoga socks, tights, and wool socks, among other things, have been added by request. “We love being able to define who we are as a company, what is important to drive the business, and where we want to go moving forward,” says Roman.
“Lots of work—some stress—but it’s worth it because it’s ours. We take great pride in our stores—brick and mortar and e-commerce—and we are as concerned about the customer experience as we are about having the best sock selection possible.”
It cannot be denied that socks—besides being eminently useful—can be great fun. But this may be the most fun that has ever been had with them. “I love a challenge, learning new things, and feeling a sense of accomplishment when I figure something out,” says Roman, who has taught himself e-commerce from the ground up. “Creating a business that both of us take a great deal of pride in is an awesome pay-off. We love customer reactions to our shop, from befuddled by a store that has only socks, to literally screaming with laughter when they browse the socks. We love working for ourselves—taking pride in what we do and have built—but interacting with customers and sharing our love of fun socks is the best.”
97 Tinker Street, Woodstock
845-684-5988 | woodsockinc.com