Totally Awesome Goods. The name is anything but a misnomer. In fact, it might be an understatement. In an era where marketing can be gimmicky and bombastic, it’s refreshing, startling even, to encounter a locally owned business that is head to toe with charm, delivering on a brand promise and authenticity like Madison’s Totally Awesome Goods.
With an ideal location in the Keybank Courtyard in downtown Madison, T.A.G. is much more than your run-of-the-mill ma-and-pa run jewelry and gift store. With a strong brand perspective, unique product offering, and a flourishing e-commerce site, Totally Awesome Goods has extended their reach throughout the fifty states.
“Our online presence is paramount,” says owner Jay Alpert. “We’re very fortunate to have a physical space in such a great part of Connecticut. But it’s the online market that gives us the ability to scale this business.”
Totally Awesome Goods is not the first successful retail venture for Alpert. In 1996, he became president and co-owner of a catalogue business that grew from $1 million to $20 million in revenue under his tenure. After selling his interest in 2010, he set out on his own. In 2012, he found downtown Branford to be a good fit for his new venture – and it was. With business strong and steady, Alpert moved his store to a larger space in Madison just four years later.
T.A.G. was embraced from the beginning. Specializing in unique merchandise, often times handcrafted from recycled materials, Totally Awesome Goods managed to carve out a niche for itself in both its physical space,as well as from its online accessibility. And it’s that very niche that has become T.A.G.’s trademark. “Every product tells a story,” is not just their tagline; it’s their commitment to sourcing special items of a rare quality.
“Every item we sell comes with a story card that tells a little bit about the product,” Alpert says. “These stories help to create a connection between the product and our customers.”
Take their Calming Angel, handcrafted from soapstone by artisans in Kenya. This gorgeous, smooth-to-the-touch figurine creates positive energy and is meant to exert a calming influence when held. There’s the VOZ Jewelry, handmade in Oregon from aluminum, brass, or a combination of the two. Each piece has a colorful saying stamped into the metal, meant to emulate the personality of whoever wears it. Their line of Recycled Netting handbags, crafted from recycled commercial netting, are another huge hit with customers.
“I never wanted so much to create just a store,” Alpert admits, “but a brand. That’s far more important to me. It’s the brand that resonates with meaning and purpose. And it’s the brand that I think people take to and keep coming back to.”
Alpert, who is proud to call T.A.G. a family owned and operated business, knows he can’t be all things to everybody. So he’s happy to claim whatever niche he’s managed to carve out for himself. This means not selling anything he jokingly calls “dust collectors.”
“That’d be far too easy,” he says. “And not at all rewarding. We see our items as having so much individual personality and charm. Then the goal becomes, I suppose, to play matchmaker with what we sell and to whom we sell it.”
Sports fans and dog lovers and those who appreciate humor and fashion and rich, compelling stories that have meaning and purpose – this seems to be Alpert’s target clientele. So the name, Totally Awesome Goods, though whimsical and even a bit enigmatic, really does say it all.
Visit their website, www.totallyawesomegoods.com to learn more about their story and sales.