Calypso restructures with the changing times
With so many working from home right now, residents are not browsing Hamilton stores like they once did, and there are fewer stores to choose from.
“People come into town for errands, to go to the bank, to go on appointments and then they leave,” Maritza Sequeros, chief executive officer of Calypso Hornburg, said. “They don’t linger like they did before.”
To cope with shifting shopping trends, Calypso is absorbing its Max Mara, Voila and Women’s Secret stores into its main store on Front Street.
The three closures means that Calypso has retreated from 4,450 square feet of retail space. Talk about do more with less.
The clothing brand Max Mara is now at the back of Calypso on the ground floor and Women’s Secret — selling underwear, lingerie and bathing suits — is upstairs. But space is not infinite, so Calypso has had to cut back on the range it carries.
“Max Mara had seven different types of looks,” Ms Sequeros said. “I will keep two — weekend and leisure.”
Ms Sequeros said that they had to close their Voila store in the Butterfield Walkway on Front Street anyway because the bank needed the space back. The store’s Longchamp Paris luxury leather goods brand has now been given space on the ground floor of Calypso.
“I repurposed the shoe area so that it looks like a Longchamp boutique with a separate entrance as well,” Ms Sequeros said. “It looks very nice. It still has the same branding and idea that the Longchamp customer is looking for.”
Calypso’s Benetton and French Connection stores on Reid Street will remain open, but its clothing store Sisley, on the corner of Front Street and Par-la-Ville Road, will become a Calypso sales outlet store.
There has been no loss of jobs with the changes. Staff have been absorbed into Calypso and Benetton. Some staff also retired when the pandemic began.
So far, customers are enthusiastic about the changes. They like that Calypso has become largely a one-stop shop. They can get their underwear, outfits, shoes and purses in one place.
“People who have not been here in two years are coming back again,” Ms Sequeros said.
Since the pandemic began she has seen clothing tastes change. People have become more interested in more casual styles, because so many people are working from home and are not socialising as much.
“Our line Eileen Fisher is doing a lot more casual cottons and organic linens, so people are dressed leisurely but still looking good,” she said. “But now they are changing again. People are wanting to dress up again. They feel a little bit more confident. Whatever our clients ask us for, we try to give them that.”
Ms Sequeros said that a lot of people are shopping online, and in recent months even politicians have been promoting online shopping.
“You are shooting the horse you are riding on,” she said. “We don’t want that. We want them to shop Bermuda. We want to keep our staff employed. We want Bermuda to succeed. We will do what we have to.”
Ms Sequeros would like to see Bermuda pushing retail again.
“We are at the bottom of the totem pole,” she said. “We are not reinsurance. I guess we are not putting the influx of the big, big bucks into the economy.
“But all my staff are Bermudian. I keep them employed. We need to keep retail alive. You can’t beat brick and mortar. I know that everyone likes online shopping but it is different when you are feeling the fabric and touching it.
“You can try something on. It is a different experience.”
Calypso is still a family-owned business.
“Suzannah Hornburg is the president,” Ms Sequeros said. “I have my managers in different stores and sales staff. The four of us do the buying for the different stores. It is very much hands on.”
The Calypso building has been on the market for several years but Ms Sequeros is not worried.
“It has been sold before,” she said. “Hopefully, if it does sell, the new buyer will keep us on.”