Apparel and footwear company Rundown is setting up shop in downtown Hartford. Owner Christian Scott spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about how his passion for athletic shoes evolved into a Connecticut business.
NAN PRICE: Have you always known you wanted to start a business?
CHRISTIAN SCOTT: Yes I have! As long as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated toward the idea of being my own boss. It’s an unmatched feeling knowing that every ounce of my day is dedicated to building a future for my family and me.
NAN: How did you develop the business concept?
CHRISTIAN: Sneakers have always been a passion of mine. When I was a kid, my family would take me to New York City to visit stores that dealt in the secondary sneaker market. Like any other collectible, whether it’s baseball cards, vintage cars, etc., each sneaker comes with an individual story.
My goal was to one day open a store that myself as a child would be just as amazed to walk into. What started off as a hobby, as I had collected a large amount of sneakers, turned into a business once I realized there was a market for the sneakers I had amassed over the years.
NAN: How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
CHRISTIAN: Prior to opening my own store, I had helped open Solestage, a store in the New York downtown area, where I rose through ranks to Assistant Manager from a Retail Associate. I was tasked with managing a team of six and all daily operations. This opportunity is where I learned the proper way to manage a store by taking what worked as well as implementing my own take on what I can do differently to accommodate my own customer.
NAN: Tell us about your business evolution.
CHRISTIAN: During the start of COVID-19, Solestage had shut down and, at the time, I was selling a majority of my personal inventory through their consignment portal. I was devastated; I had no income whatsoever. I had taken all my inventory home that week and decided to rebrand myself as a local distributor through various social media platforms. Surprisingly, I was doing great!
I started looking at storefronts almost as a joke out of boredom and had visited a spot in Bridgeport. That spot today is now the first Rundown. It opened September 2020.
Fast forward to the present, we’ve served thousands of customers who travel far and wide from neighboring states including New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. Most of our loyal, frequent customers happen to be from Hartford! We found it only right that we accommodate those who drive over an hour weekly to shop with us. We’re beyond excited to be opening our second Connecticut location in downtown Hartford.
NAN: How are you marking and building a successful client base?
CHRISTIAN: We pride ourselves in offering the widest selection of sneakers and clothing with the most diversity in Connecticut. We accommodate all styles and offer more than just brands typically found in a store such as ours.
We’re a one-stop shop and have built a candy store, if you will, for those who live and breathe fashion and art or simply just enjoy the finer things in life. Our customer shops with the confidence that they’re receiving both authentic products in a loving environment from knowledgeable peers.
NAN: What key elements are necessary to start and run a successful business?
CHRISTIAN: Easy: A great team. I would be nothing if not for our entire staff who, day in and day out, exceed my expectations of what I would consider an asset to the company. I’d like to highlight both Jazzarell Beltre (Hartford’s upcoming Store Manager) and Judy Pagan (Public Relations) for their consistent strides at reinforcing the brand and being in my corner 24/7.
NAN: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a business owner—and how have you gotten through?
CHRISTIAN: Our biggest challenge has for sure been the COVID-19 pandemic. We consistently jump through hoops to find ways to better suit our customers both in-store and through our online platforms.
We pray to avoid a state-mandated shutdown. However, in preparation for what seems an inevitable obstacle, we’ve had our web developers build an entirely new website to accommodate for at-home orders with both shipping and curbside pick-up options. Our website should be launched fairly soon. The goal is to be as proactive as possible so our team can tackle these challenges head on!