Journal:

Pacific Trading Co. Looks Closer

April 24, 2018

We sat down with downtown business, Pacific Trading Co., to talk about their long history in Santa Cruz, their approach to the changing face of retail, and their Look Closer campaign focused on highlighting brands that have positive social and environmental impacts.

The mother-daughters team who own and operate Pacific Trading Co. is a dream team of business owners, community leaders, and advocates for commercial responsibility. Sisters Anandi and Rama Zoe Heinrich run Pacific Trading Co. along with their mom, Carolyn. Pacific Trading Co. was first opened in 1972, and the Heinrich family has owned the business for the last 32 years-ever since Carolyn purchased the businesses in 1985. Anandi and Rama Zoe grew up in the retail business and Rama Zoe fondly remembers steaming clothes the summer before eight grade, “It’s kind of like we were always involved because it has always been a family business. There has never been a lot of separation. It is our life." 

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Rama Zoe, Carolyn, & Anandi

Over the past 32 years the Heinrichs have maintained a focus on a positive experience for the customer. 

It comes down to not just the final moment of the clothes actually walking out the door but a customer being happy even if they leave without clothes. We want them to come in and feel good and feel good about themselves. That is one thing that we've been able to maintain over the years is a positive and happy place to shop. — Rama Zoe Heinrich

The evidence is clear that shopping at local independent stores brings with it all kinds of benefits: supporting local businesses, supporting the jobs those businesses create, and reinvesting money in the community. Pacific Trading Co. has long been an advocate for Downtown Santa Cruz as one of the legacy businesses that make up the foundation of our local shopping district.  

We're proud to be one of the many longstanding family businesses downtown. We are so thankful that we have been supported all these years by both locals and tourists. We're very vested in continuing to create a positive environment downtown, and hope more of the greater Santa Cruz community will come downtown and support the local small businesses. Downtown is the heart of Santa Cruz, and the more people who come downtown, the more vibrant it will become! — Anandi Heinrich

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While maintaining customer satisfaction has remained a constant in the retail industry over the years, the form and function of the retail store itself has been ever evolving. In the age of online shopping, retailers are needing to find creative ways to engage their customers and entice them to doing their shopping at brick and mortar stores.

In response to the shifts in retail, local shop owners are finding creative ways to enhance the in-store experience. Pacific Trading Co. has created a unique approach to help shoppers think a little deeper about where their clothes come from. They call the campaign Look Closer and it highlights the brands that they carry in the store that are making a difference environmentally, ethically, and socially. They use the Look Closer tags throughout the store so shoppers can easily use the information to inform their purchases. 

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Rama Zoe describes the purpose of the campaign as a way to promote those who are doing good in the fashion industry, “we want to focus on how to do fashion differently by looking at environmental and social impacts of the industry. The Fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, but there are lot of companies that are choosing to do things differently and we want to support them. We're committed to seeing changes in the fashion industry and we're proud to support companies who are dedicated to doing things differently.”

Pacific Trading Co. is making it easy for their customers to shop responsibly by assessing the impacts of each item in the store and clearly communicating that information to their customers. And for Pacific Trading Co. it isn’t about labeling some brands as bad, but really celebrating those brands that are doing good. Brands that have made a commitment to manufacturing in the USA, to empowering women, to giving back to social causes, to paying living wages, and to using earth-friendly fabrics and dyes. And all of this information is right on the tag, so shoppers can know the impact of what they are spending their money on and then feel good about their purchases.

Think about what we could do if everything was labeled in this way: cars, groceries, toys, gadgets. It would be amazing if we could frame all of our buying decisions based on the highest and best positive impact that would result from that purchase. Pacific Trading Co. is taking a proactive step forward in encouraging shoppers to think deeper about the impact of their purchases and these steps can have larger ripples beyond Santa Cruz if enough consumers realize the impact their choices can make in influencing the practices of a global industry. 

To learn more about Pacific Trading Co. follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or visit them in store at 1224 Pacific Ave in downtown Santa Cruz or 504C Bay Ave in Capitola by Gayle's Bakery.  

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