It started as a concept with an intention to sell the idea to Crocs — and it evolved into a passion project that has grown a committed community of retailer partners and customers who want to collect the rainbow. Bogg Bag began in 2008 with Kimberlee Vaccarella thinking, “I was not out to develop a brand.” But after tweaking the bag design, she took a leap in 2010 and brought in 300 pieces — and then 600. After that, “I went for broke and bought a container, and at the time I was working, raising two kids.”
Today, Bogg Bag and its products and accessories “for beach and beyond” is a fast-growing coastal retail staple that recently tripled its warehouse space with a move to a former party store that is a known filming location in Lodi, New Jersey, and interestingly, located within walking distance of the fictional strip club Bada Bing! from "The Sopranos."
“We get 60,000 cars that pass us every single day and we are right at the crux of three major throughways in New Jersey,” Vaccarella says.
Lodi lacks boutique-style shopping opportunities, according to Vaccarella, and Bogg Bag’s reimagined, significantly larger space included a “component we didn’t know what to do with in the beginning.”
Bogg Bag traditionally sells through its retailer base with some online ordering. It never had a flagship shop for locals who support the brand. Meanwhile, over the years Vaccarella has grown a close-knit network of retailer friends who carry Bogg Bag and other specialty products. So, another idea was born: Open the first Bogg Bag shop at the company’s home base with the intention of showcasing its lines while supporting friends’ brands of complementary accessories like water vessels, towels, hair ties and so on.
“Our stores are so active with our product, and we get to see what they are pairing Bogg Bag with,” Vaccarella says. “Our purpose is never to compete with our stores because we are extremely wholesale-happy and that’s up to 80 percent of our business.”
Vaccarella and the team admire the creativity of Bogg Bag's retailer partners, who found innovative ways to sell the bags amid the pandemic—like creating special Easter, Mother’s Day, summer and teachers’ gift bundles-in-a-bag.
“Following shows, we got comments from stores like, ‘Thank you so much for helping us stay in business,’ and their success is the most important thing,” Vaccarella says. “We know a lot of companies that have moved away from wholesale and are doing a direct-to-consumer thing because of better profit margins, but we stand by our retailers. We support them, we repost them, we share their stores, we talk about them.”
The Bogg Bag flagship shop, Boutique 26 — due to open after construction is complete — is more of a brand showcase and local spot than anything. Plus, Vaccarella is pleased it will give Bogg Bag an opportunity to support other brands, such as Wellkept Wipes, Teleties hair accessories and more. And because the area where Bogg Bag is centered is more mall and big-box focused than independent retailer, there’s a gap in the market the wholesaler can fill, according to Vaccarella.
Follow the rainbow
White walls lined with shelves upon shelves will house the 29 different Bogg Bag colors. “When you come in, it will be a clean feel, and you can follow the rainbow all the way around the store,” she says.
Different sizes of Bogg Bags will be showcased according to color, along with accompanying accessories: wine totes, boozies, makeup totes and candles. “Everything that matches that colorway will be housed in decorative inserts.”
Construction is due to be complete soon. (An unexpected leak required some repairs that delayed the opening.)
Growing a following
The store opening is a real milestone in Bogg Bag history, and Vaccarella rewinds to earlier years when the company experienced typical entrepreneurial hiccups and larger challenges that might have sidelined a business. But she didn’t give up.
“I’ve been told the bags are too utilitarian—they aren’t going to sell, you’ll never need more than one,” she relates. “I was persistent.”
On one occasion, a factory the company previously worked with delivered a container of bags that were tainted with black streaks — some not that noticeable, but they weren’t perfect. Vaccarella and her husband, a police officer, rallied and prepared each bag as a vessel for holding essentials like water bottles and cleaning supplies for Sandy victims on the Jersey shore. “We partnered with the American Red Cross and National Guard and handed out about 1,000 bags,” she relates. “It made my heart happy.”
The outpouring of thanks was overwhelming. And, the interest in Bogg Bags grew. “We heard, ‘Where can we get another bag?’” Vaccarella says. “One of my favorites was a woman who said, ‘That bright yellow bag was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal place.’”
From the beginning, Bogg Bag has been built on relationships — and this continues with the opening of its shop at the Lodi location. “The response we are getting tells us time and again, it all goes back to relationships,” Vaccarella says.