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What’s in Storians! It’s Kasia. Remember being a kid and getting so stoked about that one place where you could eat some ice cream or play arcade games? For the final stop on our grand Nashville tour, we swung by a little spot that’ll bring out the kid in anyone.
It’s called The Soda Parlor. And not only can you get sweet treats there, you can grab some sweet threads from YouTube star Olan Rogers’ apparel line. In fact, the Nashville native, whose acting and directing has garnered him more than 900,000 subscribers and 76 million views, opened up the store in 2014 as a natural extension of his budding clothing business and meet-and-greets.
“It’s always been hard to describe the brand in general,” says Colter Bergh, director of operations. “With entrepreneurship there are, of course, new challenges every day, but one of our main challenges has been figuring out how to differentiate ourselves from others.” Making The Soda Parlor a destination and more than just clothing was integral to their growth strategy: It was a tactic to help differentiate them from their competitors.
Here’s how Olan and his team have made The Soda Parlor a must-visit retail haven:
As Olan’s following grew organically, the team thought about how they could expand their business. “We started in 2010 with a few t-shirts based around Olan’s YouTube videos and have gradually added a variety of different products over time,” Colter says.
Given Olan’s immense audience and frequent meet-and-greets, it only made sense to open a hub where he could interact with fans and sell his increasingly popular merchandise.
Shirts are still the brand’s core product, but with the opening of the flagship store, Olan Rogers Supply (ORS) has moved into beverages, floats, shakes, a super-tasty dessert called waffle mondaes, and accessories like glasses and mugs—“things that really wouldn’t have made sense for us to sell before but now fit perfectly,” Colter says.
“For ORS we’re always trying to come up with ideas and products that stand out from the crowd,” Colter says. (Hans Solo cat tee, anyone?) “It’s the same with The Soda Parlor, which is super unique by design. Just the fact that there is no place like it kind of makes it a can’t-miss destination. On top of that we pour ourselves into creating great products, and we hire pros to help develop our recipes and work with great designers and brands.”
The Soda Parlor is always hosting events from themed trivia nights about Jurassic Park or Harry Potter to a waffle taste-testing party and fan appreciation nights.
“Events help our business in the short term sales-wise, but more importantly they help us in the long term by creating new customers and fans around a unique experience, as well as strengthening relationships within our existing community,” Colter says.