We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Valentine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Hey VoyageDenver, it’s great to talk with you! I’m glad we’ve gotten to connect. One of the most critical factors behind Scout’s success is our team (which I’ll talk about more later in the interview.) Also, I approach everything I do with a service and community-centered mindset. Coming from a non-profit background, it’s always at the forefront of my mind to do things as inexpensively as possible. This mindset helps us find creative, often unexpected, solutions to challenges we encounter and face each day. We try to be of service to the communities that our physical locations are in by listening to feedback and working with organizations that directly impact the community.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We opened the first Scout: Dry Goods & Trade, in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2008. It was a tiny storefront packed with personality nestled in a charming neighborhood called Dundee.
Scout is a buy-sell-trade clothing store. However, we want to do more than sell products. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and safe space for all people. We’re also on a mission to do what we can to save the environment. We do that by keeping items IN CIRCULATION and OUT OF LANDFILLS for as long as possible. Since opening in 2008, we’ve saved millions of pounds of textiles from landfills!
At Scout, we aim to be a community hub that encourages and supports other small businesses and artists within our small business. As the saying goes, all ships rise when the tide is high.
Scout opened during the recession of 2008, and we’re so happy that we’ve made it to today in 2021. We survived the recession, and now we can say we’ve also (somehow) made it through COVID19.
Our 5,000 square-foot Denver location is a treasure trove of affordable, trendy, and constantly rotating vintage and recycled inventory. We buy our stock straight from our customers. In exchange, our customers get cash on the spot or choose to get a higher percentage if they opt for store credit. We give a higher pay-out rate when people choose the store credit option because it helps with the mission we just mentioned: keeping clothing, shoes, and accessories in circulation.
I’ve learned so much in the last 14 years of running Scout. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that it’s impossible to thank people too much or to communicate too much.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Gah! Denver is one of my all-time favorite places in the U.S. because there’s so much life and energy here! I love how no matter what you’re into, there’s a ton to do!
Ok. So, grab your sunglasses; this is going to be fun…
We’d start by staying at a cute Airbnb in the South Broadway/Baker neighborhood. In the mornings, we’d walk over to Broadway for coffee at Metropolis. It would just so happen to be a Saturday;) so we’d hit up the street market outside of Mutiny Cafe.
Next, we’d hop around to all the cute, locally-owned shops on Broadway. Of course, we’d go to my shop, Scout: Dry Goods & Trade. Then, we’d weave our way through some of my other favorites like La Lovely Vintage, Ten Penny, FM, Hopetank, Goldmine, Boss, Sewn, and Fancy Tiger Crafts.
We’d stop at Sputnik for a corndog break. Then, we’d grab a scooter over to the Denver Art Museum to take a spin through the Denver Art Museums’ newest exhibit. Dinner would be at City O’ City for a vegan burger with the Scout Trio cookies for dessert.
We’d take a walk along the 16th St. Mall, stopping into Union Station to people watch and get a whiff of that sweet waffle-cone scented air.
For the complete “Denver” experience, we’d, for sure, do a day in the mountains. And, I always take everyone that visits to see Red Rocks Amphitheater because we all know that there’s no other music venue like it in the world. I consider Red Rocks to be a “must-see.”
I’d be sure not to plan the trip to be too jam-packed with activities. Part of the fun with Denver is enjoying its creative and chill vibe. It’s such a lighthearted, sunny, welcoming, and experimental city that is best enjoyed with plenty of water and an easy-going attitude.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have many people, groups, and books to be grateful for and give credit for my persistence and success. At the top of the list is my identical twin sister, fellow long-time Denverite Anna Newell Jones. She’s been my built-in best friend since before Day 1. She’s supportive, loving, and a good listener. And, she’ll call me on my B.S. — which I need sometimes. As a business owner, it’s easy to be surrounded by people who’ll stroke the ol’ ego and are willing to sign off on my not-always-amazing ideas. She always calls it like she sees it and is the real deal. Also, my 16-year-old daughter, Marlo, inspires me. She’s creative and a natural leader. She’s always got great ideas and opinions. I can’t tell you how much hope she gives me for where we’re heading as a human race.
A few books that have changed my life are: (the classic) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the practical book Gallup Strengths Finders. There are many more books and people that I’m grateful for; far too many to list.
And, of course, the team at Scout is the backbone of our success. Honestly, they deserve so much recognition and credit. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you know how hard it can be. They work tirelessly to make Scout the friendly place that it is. They buy the incredible, unique inventory you find in our stores, and they’re always ready to answer questions patiently and helpfully. They are genuinely kind people. I feel fortunate that I get to work with them, and I’m so thankful that they represent the face of Scout.
303 Magazine Denver Westword Adrienne Thomas