SUMMIT, NJ - It has been just over a year since The Hilltop Shop at MONDO opened, offering clothing and gifts adorned with the Summit brand, and patrons are embracing the concept, providing a sustainable revenue stream to the Summit Boosters Association and evangelizing the Hilltop City in the process.
The Hilltop Shop, which debuts its holiday selection Dec. 5, is the collaborative brainchild of past Summit Boosters co-Presidents Trish Cassin and Michelle Kennedy, along with MONDO owner Annette Dwyer. Current Summit Boosters co-presidents Marty Martino and Elizabeth Gramigna work with Dwyer to shepherd the boutique, gaging shopper feedback, sourcing and selecting items, as well as managing the inventory. They take their inspiration from many environments, including college bookstores that they research and visit.
Prior to occupying the space at MONDO, the Boosters operated "pop up" stores at Summit High School, Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, and select PTO events. The retail space, however, allows for a much greater variety of merchandise to be made available, and a consistent, inviting environment in which to shop. In addition to residents purchasing gear for themselves, items are being bought for birthday and special event presents, out of town relatives and guests, people moving into and out of Summit, and for visitors to the city, taking the Summit brand viral.
"We are excited by -- and very thankful for -- the support The Hilltop Shop has received from the Summit community. Our spirit wear is being worn not just in Summit, but all over the world. Annette Dwyer, owner of MONDO, has given us an opportunity for which we are very grateful," said Summit Boosters Association co-President Mary Martino. "As we enter our second holiday season, the Merchandise Committee, Jeanne Bergman, Laura Coburn and myself, have ordered new merchandise, which we know our customers are going to love."
In late 2010, as Dwyer was bring her retail vision to life, she engaged the Boosters to discuss putting Summit spirit wear in her beachfront real estate -- the front window and entrance to the store. "MONDO is a Summit project, so it made sense that we put the Summit brand up front," said Dwyer. "Kids, families, schools, sports, these are the things we all care about and therefore the Summit brand and the merchandise carrying it needed to be in our window on Springfield Avenue."
There are currently more than 50 different items adorned with the words "Summit" and / or the Summit "S", many in Maroon, Gold or White, with some garments and gifts featuring a fashionable base color of black or grey. There are sweatshirts, T-Shirts, sweatpants, shorts, performance wear, key rings, magnets, pennants and many other items, all reasonably priced compared to other branded merchandise. The Boosters work with several different contacts to source and produce the inventory.
"Offering Summit “spirit wear” for sale at MONDO is the epitome of the Boosters Association living its mission," said Boosters Association co-President Elizabeth Gramigna. "The Association provides supplemental funding to the sports programs through fundraising efforts such as merchandise sales. The mission of the organization is to increase interest and support in Summit Athletics among local citizens, and to foster spirit, team effort and interest in Summit Athletics. What better way is there to encourage support of our local teams and promote spirit than wearing maroon and white to a Summit sporting event."
Based on first-hand customer input, the Shop reacts to consumer requests and feedback. By example, shoppers were requesting Summit-branded toddler wear, which is now in stock and readily available. For the holidays, new items are arriving, including Nike and Under Armour performance shirts, and even Vineyard Vines ties featuring the Summit "S" in a repeat pattern against both gold and maroon backgrounds.