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Soltrino giving summer a chance in the Washington Mall

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Soltrino shop owners left, Michelle Viera and Linda Cook with some Cup Match swimwear picks for the children (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

After being hard hit by a wet spring, the Soltrino swimsuit pop-up shop in the Washington Mall in Hamilton, is extending its lease by two months to finally catch the summer rays.

In May alone, Bermuda experienced record amounts of rainfall with almost 13 inches falling. June also had several hard rain storms.

“The weather had a massive impact on sales,” Soltrino co-owner Michelle Viera said.

“When we had torrential rain people simply did not come into town,” co-owner Linda Cook said.

When the pair opened the pop-up in mid-May their intention was to stay until July.

“We decided to continue through September to give summer more of a chance,” Ms Cook said. “We wanted to push it through the whole summer season and see how we did.”

Michelle Viera, left and Linda Cook started swimwear store Soltrino, eight years ago online (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Today, they are busy for Cup Match. Many people are buying last-minute holiday bathing suits in blue and red, or blue and blue.

“Monday was probably one of our busiest days,” Ms Viera said. “The week before this was the calm before the storm. It has been a rollercoaster. It is really busy one week and then the next week it can be slow.”

Since setting up online eight years ago, they have done pop-ups in a number of different locations such as backyards and expos and also downstairs in the Washington Mall next to the English Market. They decided to try the ground floor this year, thinking they would pick up a lot of foot traffic.

“It is a prime spot so we thought we would go in and see what it was like to run a store a little longer,” Ms Viera said.

Her business partner said running a physical store has had its challenges but they have loved meeting their customers and learning more about their needs.

To keep up with changing trends, they started bringing in different brands this year, such as Tommy Bahama and Jantzen. They also have bathing suits for fuller-figured women.

“Those have done extremely well for our customers,” Ms Viera said.

Some customers are coming in to find things they saw advertised through the Soltrino website and others were just passing by and did not know they even existed.

“We have had an online presence for a long time,” Ms Cook said.

The store itself has had a great impact on their sales.

“People like being able to touch and see what the product looks like first hand,” Ms Viera said.

Many of the swimsuits they sell are made from fabrics that fight the sun’s rays.

Ms Viera also runs a business called Fluid Fitness offering exercise classes in the pool. “That was why I became interested in UPF resistant swimwear,” she said. “A lot of my clients were getting burnt and I was also out in the pool getting a lot of sun exposure.”

Ms Cook runs a baby equipment rental company called Little Longtails.

“We both bring something different to the table,” Ms Viera said.

They both work in Soltrino on the weekends and have assistants to run it during the week.

They do not know if they will keep Soltrino open in the mall beyond September.

“It is mainly a summer-based business,” Ms Cook said. “Everyone knows how challenging retail can be in Bermuda. It is very hard to make a profit. Doing this over the summer helps us see if that might be feasible.”

They work hard to keep their prices in line with the United States.

“If the price is too high people will shop online,” Ms Viera said.

Now, they are getting orders from overseas through their website.

“We have shipped to as far away as California,” Ms Viera said. “Sometimes people are looking for a particular pattern of swimsuit brand online and that brings them to us.”

She has been surprised by how little it actually costs to mail the product, sometimes less than $10.

In addition to swimwear, they also sell beach-related items such as hats, floating lanterns and Neso beach tents.

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Published August 02, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 03, 2023 at 6:24 am)

Soltrino giving summer a chance in the Washington Mall

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