Salt Supply, a gift and resort lifestyle shop in Provincetown, is merchandized with fun products that will keep you smiling long after summer is over. Established by Salt Hotel co-founder and creative director, Kevin O’Shea, the hotel shops are an extension of the Salt Hotel brand. The Provincetown shop is the first stand-alone store, with other Salt Supply shops are located at the historic The Chequit, on Shelter Island, and The Asbury, Asbury Park.
Is there a story behind the name, Salt Supply? It is a play on the parent company of Salt Hotels, we wanted an association back to the company as this is our company wide-retail concept.
What are Salt Supply best sellers? Most of our product comes from small independent crafts people, artisans and makers so the lineup is unique and people come for that reason, they know they are going to find something very original and the product line up tends to be bright, fun and has a great sense of humor.
Where do you source your products? We are constantly on the hunt for new makers, we use Instagram as a source and have a few representatives in New York that rep some smaller independent crafts people, we also do all the major gift shows and focus on the new and upcoming sections to find very timely product.What makes your shop unique? We have worked hard to make sure the product lines are entirely unique to each of our markets, almost everything in the Provincetown store for example is not available anywhere else in town. We wanted to create the “perfect gift shop” where no matter the occasion you know you will find a unique gift(s) and the perfect card. It’s also a great shop for finding unexpected items for your home and unique personal accessories.
Who are your customers? In Provincetown we are right on Commercial St so we attract a very diverse crowd of everyone who is in town visiting, the bright colors and our signature window displays draws everyone in. The other two locations are connected to our hotels so a big portion of our customer base there are our own guests.
How has the internet impacted your business? We will see!!! We are in the process of finalizing a new e-commerce site so people who have visited on the stores on vacation can shop all year long from home.
Kevin O’Shea, the shopkeeper at Salt Supply. Photo by Jane Beiles
Who inspires you? I am inspired by all the talented artists and craftspeople we have the pleasure of working with, it’s great to see truly unique, fun and inspiring products coming from individuals especially when I feel like we have grown so accustomed to mass produced mediocre retail product made overseas. When I see something that someone has put thought into and consideration for the materials, packaging, logo etc. and when it reflects their own creative style and personality and we can share that with our customers it makes everything we do worthwhile.
What inspires you? I am very interested in current retail trends and how the internet is shaping traditional brick and mortar retail as we have known it. I think smaller independent shops like ours are not only going to remain relevant but continue to grow in popularity as people tire of the status quo. I am inspired by interior and fashion trends and how those affect retail buying habits. We have kept our concept very loose so the store can constantly evolve, we are changing colors, and product mix, and seasonality constantly allowing us to be very timely and that process is exhilarating, everyday something new is happening.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. well I am not sure I would call myself a shopkeeper as I wear many hats, I am the cofounder and Creative Director of Salt Hotels and I along with my Creative Manager Nicole Packard look after retail. My background has always been interiors and architecture, I worked for the corporate design teams of Morgans Hotel Group and Starwood Hotels and Resorts before we started our own hotel company 6 years ago. I think that my design background lends itself to retail as the store is an environment and the product we select are all part of that enforcing the narrative of that environment, it’s not unlike putting together a hotel lobby or guestroom and filling those spaces with furnishings and lighting to support an overall design narrative.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? This has all been a bit of trial by fire to be honest, since we don’t really focus on any specialty the product mix reflects Nicole and my own tastes and a reflection of the Salt Hotel’s brand. It’s been interesting to see what sells and what doesn’t and so I would say the hardest thing is just anticipating what people will want to buy…I am not sure that will ever get easier but it’s a fascinating process.
What task do you like to delegate? We have a great team and everyone pitches in to help, the store is a fun environment to be in so everyone enjoys spending time in there and helping to price items, take inventory etc.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Stock position within the store (no matter the size) has such a huge impact on how they sell, we laugh about moving something 3 feet and suddenly it’s flying out of the door. There is a lot of psychology involved in how people interact with product and its interesting how the store design and layout really affect that.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Location is key, and I think having a strong narrative, even though our product mix is seemingly random we still have a very strong vetting and editing process based on long established brand standards for Salt Hotels, there have been products that even though we may like them personally they don’t pass our stringent editing process and thus don’t make it into the store, I think being disciplined in that process creates a strong product line up that resonated with people. I see often in stores a lack of a strong vision or editing and I think that’s what can set a fantastic retail experience apart from a mediocre one. Imparting some of your personality and taste is great but you can’t make the product lineup all about you, it has to appeal to your customer base too.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? I am already doing my dream job, owning a successful hotel company that allows us to spin off interesting concepts like Salt Supply, I feel truly blessed and inspired every day and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Can you share five favorite shops? Storehouse in Asbury Park, NJ; ABC Carpet and Home, NYC; 10 Corso Como in Milan (VERY excited about the forthcoming NYC location); Merci in Paris; and Map in Provincetown, MA.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood coffee shop or restaurant? Our favorite spot in Ptown is Joon Bar and Kitchen run by our dear friend Audrey Mostaghim, the food is exceptional and we always run into friends sitting around the bar…it’s like our own version of Cheers.
I wish I could…continue to expand Salt Supply as we grow as a company, we have plans to introduce it into other markets we are opening hotels in and I really hope it grows into its own little sub-brand that has recognition and continues to be a platform for us to support independent makers.
On the Future of Retail
“I follow the current state of retail very closely, we are in unprecedented times with the many major brick and mortar retailers failing as online sales continue to grow. I think the future is fairly clear in that we will be doing most of our everyday shopping (household consumables etc) online, most of our clothes shopping online, but I think people will still crave small independent retail experiences. I think we will see the death of the shopping mall and a reinvention of those spaces into mixed use public gathering spot and maybe there will be a place for small, unique retail environments there, a complete 180 from what these malls were originally intended for…”
353 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA