Sarpsborg in blom
With the arrival of spring, the doors are open wide at Tvete, both at its traditional pedestrian street premises – and at the Amfi Borg shopping centre.
The traditional clothing store Tvete has sat at the heart of Sarpsborg since 1975.
For this well-established family business, adaptability and new opportunities have been crucial. During the coronavirus pandemic, they launched an online shop at tveteshop.no, and just last year, they expanded to add a new shop at Amfi Borg, a shopping mall located one kilometre from the city centre.
Coffee and cakes were served at the grand opening of a new, 130m2 Tvete outlet. Even the mayor was in attendance and was given the honour of cutting the ribbon.
How has it been for this brand, which has always kept the pedestrian street as part of its identity?
Shops that complement each other
“First of all, Borg is a nice shopping centre.”
Elin Karine Tvete, the current owner, continues:
“They have several other drivers that are local and independent. We also notice that we deal with a different group of customers there. The future of our outlet in town will depend on our ability to draw them in. We reach a slightly younger demographic, but we’ve also got customers from Fredrikstad, Moss and Halden who stop at Borg and don’t drive all the way into town.”
“This is a hobby job!”Elin Karine Tvete
For Elin Karine Tvete’s own part, the opening of yet another shop was also about challenging herself:
“The shop on the pedestrian street is already flourishing, so I wanted to do something myself as well. It was also fun for us to build this shop ourselves. Among other things, we painted the walls and got tables sourced from various places. We mixed ‘the old and the new’, which gave us a clear sense of identity.”
“Is this something you would recommend others do?”
“I think everyone stands to benefit from a challenge, whether it’s social media or running an additional store. What is it Thomas at Texcon always says? ‘Stagnation is actually decline.’”
“Have you gotten hooked on this? Will there be a Tvete 3?
“For this year, it’ll be enough to have these two, I think, then we’ll see what the future holds. But for now, I can’t put in any more hours – there aren’t any left in the day,” chuckles Tvete.
“After the opening, you wrote ‘Thank you so much for a wonderful week’ on social media. Describe what that means to you.”
“Loads of nice people – and a lovely atmosphere. And good turnover, of course. Because turnover is what keeps us going.
More and new customers shopping online
When the coronavirus pandemic forced the shop to close its doors, Elin Karine Tvete sat down and set up an online store.
“Those who live in and around Sarpsborg use the online shop to see what we’ve got before they come to the store. Otherwise, we also ship to other parts of the country, like Northern Norway and Western Norway.”
The online shop is booming. Items are very rarely returned. Could the physical presence of the Tvete brand be part of what has made their online shop such a success story? “Boozt, for instance, is a major international online shop that nobody knows anything concrete about. It’s totally impersonal. You send your money to someplace that doesn’t have a presence anywhere – at least not in Norway. We’re here in Sarpsborg, and I believe that gives us an identity, and it lets people form a personal relationship with us.”
Employees are the key
“After all these years, have you figured out what’s most important for achieving results?”
“It’s our staff. Obviously, you need to have the right items to sell, but you need the right employees to sell them. Many of the people who work with us have been here for many years, most of them for 20 years or more.”
Elin Karine Tvete herself spends a lot of time out on the shop floor, running the online store as a Sunday activity. Running an independent clothing shop is simply more of a lifestyle than a job to her. Or, as she puts it:
“This is a ‘hobby job’! But I like being in the shop. It’s important to be there, out
at the checkout counter. We’re called Tvete, and I’m Tvete. The brand is family. That said, working a lot wouldn’t help much without our employees,” she emphasises.
“What about location?”
“Having a good location is a bit of a freebie, but if you’re good enough, people will come to you no matter where you are.”
“And what do you look for in new employees?” “Pleasant, outgoing people who love people. That’s important. Without people like that, things go awry.”
“Texcon has a presence throughout Norway. They pick up on what’s happening in terms of brands and strategies.”Elin Karine Tvete
Texcon has its finger on the puls
The family business has been a member of Texcon for more than 10 years. It has been useful for orienting themselves in the market, and Morten Bratterud in particular has served as a good adviser.
“How do you use Texcon?”
“Texcon is a brilliant sparring partner. You often end up being a little isolated in your own shop, so it’s good to talk to someone who travels around a bit. Texcon has a presence throughout Norway. They pick up on what’s happening in terms of brands and strategies. They see what others are doing, and they can spot the smartest move. We get professional input, advice, great conditions and a wonderful purchasing cooperative. It’s been excellent.”
Spring has come to Sarpsborg. That means sunshine and a refreshing breeze, as well as teeming crowds curiously peeking through shop windows – looking for some lighter outfits.
Elin Karine Tvete is delighted with the bustling life in the pedestrian street:
“It’s getting so nice out now! The municipality sets up some nice flower decorations, which makes everything quite cosy. We’ll put up some racks outside with some summer items, and then we’ll open our doors. And that’s lovely, I think,” she concludes.