Strange Ways

Strange Ways is an independent curated shop that sells quirky collectables. Think pins, patches, candles and lip balms with irreverent sayings and just a touch of patchouli.

Strange Ways has a cult-like following and is totally dedicated to supporting small businesses and independent designers and artists. It’s a bit like a treasure trove of standout pieces, full of underground items you’ve probably never seen before.

The shop was founded in 2014 by Alex Dakoulas who was working as a lifestyle designer with companies like Converse and Puma. Alex is now on a constant search for up-and-coming creatives who produce limited-run products so that he can offer a curated shopping experience for his community. The philosophy of Strange Ways is that it’s the little things that make people stand out and they try to source items that help unique people express themselves through their clothing, home and jewelry.

Strange Ways has a challenge as an online shop because they have to group these unique items in a user-friendly way and express their full catalogue of varied SKU’s. Their homepage focuses on their major collections first which are pins and patches. Something to notice about the aesthetics of their shop is how intentionally eclectic they are. Even their typography isn’t consistent but it gives the same retro alt rocker vibe.

As a creative store, Strange Ways has a genius way of getting customers to hand over their emails. Instead of asking visitors to subscribe to their newsletter, the prompt is to join their “Strange Ways Secret Society” which is so much more fun. When you join the society they’ll email out a 10% off coupon code and automatically add you to their loyalty program so you can earn points on each purchase.

When you scroll through the Strange Ways product catalogue they make their diverse product range more consistent by having each item in the same shoppable template which is a portrait size clickable icon. Some items display an exclusive sticker so you know you can only find that item on Strange Ways. When you click an item you get a message saying how much stock remains for that SKU and how many are in shopping carts to entice the shopper to make a purchase now. For a smaller store with limited merchandise this strategy can be very effective to motivate a buyer to act quickly with something they really want.

We discovered a bit of a Pinterest-like feature on their site too, you can add things you like to a wishlist to create a collection of items.

Strange Ways has one retail brick-and-mortar store in New Haven, Connecticut. The Strange Ways site is a great example of a physical store that’s been able to transition their experience online in an authentic way. Looking at photos of their physical shop, you can see how they’ve arranged their online shop in a similar way to how a customer might browse in person. They have sections within the store for their patches and pins on a wall, while their clothing and home goods live in their own sections, the same way they do online.

Strange Ways has had a lot of success with Instagram and they actively connect their Instagram presence with their online shop. They host Instagram Live discussions with the small business owners that they support and they use embedded Instagram shopping at the bottom of their homepage.

For creative shop owners Strange Ways is a great example of how to bring your personality online and be intentionally quirky about how you position your brand through your copywriting and style.