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Inspiring Conversations with Nicholas Ayala of SLCT Stock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas Ayala.

Hi Nicholas, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My name is Nick Ayala, CEO and Founder of SLCT Stock! I’ve always been passionate about vintage clothing and fashion, and I’ve been interested in personal style since I was a young boy. I grew up in Indiana where few people were interested or cared about fashion. Growing up I always was fascinated about big cities where they had lavish and cool stores to shop in. We didn’t have those in Indiana, and my hope was to one day open a store where I sold items I was passionate about.

Fast forward years later, I was attending college at Indiana University where I still cared heavily about this dream of mine. I bought and sold vintage clothing and sneakers throughout college and there was a huge gap in the market here in Bloomington. There wasn’t a store where I could buy or sell these things I cared about. I graduated in 2016 from the Kelley School of Business and started my career at Toyota in Michigan. My hope was to save money to one day open my dream store. Two years later in 2018, SLCT Stock was born in Bloomington, IN.

Our first store was insanely tiny and we packed it full of vintage clothing and sneakers. The store was immediately a success and the students of IU and the surrounding population were able to shop and immerse themselves in the things I was passionate about, We operate in a Buy, Sell, and Trade format and the students of IU love it. I hired a great team of people at the Indiana store and brought on Brian Sullivan to run it and be a co-owner while I moved west to open our second store in Boulder, Colorado.

Almost five years later, we now have three locations with our newest outlet located in the East Village in New York City. We are still doing what we love and are super lucky to have thrived through the pandemic and beyond.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest obstacle by far has been the pandemic in 2020. We were forced to close our Indiana and Colorado storefronts for over two months and it was a great time of unknown for our business and the rest of the country. During this time we sold heavily online and I emptied my savings to keep the stores afloat and our business running. We made it through this difficult time, but there were many instances where I didn’t know if SLCT would make it. I am super thankful for our customers and our team for all the support during those times.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about SLCT Stock?
SLCT Stock is a vintage clothing store that specializes in the buying, selling and trading of Vintage T-Shirts, Hats, Crewnecks, and other garments. We started out focusing on College towns for our store locations and have two storefronts in Bloomington, IN and Boulder, CO. These are the hometowns of Indiana University and Colorado University. Recently, we opened our third location in New York City in the East Village.

SLCT Stock has always tried to separate itself from the competition by the quality and price of our vintage goods. We take pride in the curation of our store and try to only carry the finest quality clothing that we would actually wear ourselves. The pricing of our items is also very competitive to other big-box stores or stores with similar formats.

One of the things I am most excited or proud of is the fact that I have a storefront in my college town of Bloomington, IN. I take great pride in the fact that I went to Indiana University and I am a Hoosier. Having a store there fills me with great joy and I am proud that I can add to the college experience there in Bloomington.

Business-wise, we have excelled by being consistent and remaining true to our values. We live our lives to sell vintage clothing and try to share our passion with both our customer base and employees. By remaining true and passionate to this philosophy, I believe our customer base resonates with us and wants to support our mission.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I guess the most surprising thing that most people find out about me is that I am from Indiana and I didn’t have a previous background in Fashion/Retail.

Being from Indiana, I feel like I can give a fresh, new perspective on this industry that many people haven’t thought about or even considered. A lot of people from my hometown don’t take risks or pursue their own ventures, and I’ve always wanted to gamble on myself and take a risk.

I don’t have any previous retail experience, and my first experience came from working the floor at my first storefront. A big part of this business is being able to connect with your customer and relay your passion for the product you sell onto them. I strive to do my best at this in my stores.

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