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Checking Out: Danny Boddy

Soft Surroundings’ retail svp loves serving and interacting with people. He can’t understand why every retail employee doesn’t feel the same way



Where did your retail career start?
I got a part-time job at The Gap while in college at Texas Christian University. And I just fell in love with retail.

What did you love?
Being in the public; learning the business piece of retail, the visual piece and the people piece of it. It didn’t feel like work. It was my a-ha moment: This is what I want to do!

Your parents, of course, were thrilled.
I remember when I came home and told my father. He said, “You want to fold sweaters for a living? Is there a future in that?”

How did your role as regional vp for Warner Bros. come about?
It was the time of their big Studio Stores. They really captured my attention – from the visual, people and business aspects of those bigger-than-life stores. And I’d always been a Saturday morning cartoon fan.

And so off you went, into the world of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig.
Barry Gilbert, who was [Warner Bros.’] svp of retail, laid out a map in front of me and said, “Here’s where we’re opening stores, where would you like to go?” It turned out to be New Orleans. Ten years later, I was a regional vp in the Midwest. In 2001, when they folded the concept, I was one of last people to turn my keys in. It was, by far, the best experience of my life.

How did that prepare you for your role at Soft Surroundings?
It taught me so much, not just about retail but also about people, how to leverage their talents, how to empower them, how to grasp a feeling of belonging, which I feel so many retailers lack. A lot of retailers have great product and a great story to tell, but they don’t know how to grab the buy-in of the people who work for them.


Is that hiring? Or training?
Both, but it starts with hiring. We gravitate toward people who want to serve people. This is a service industry. Yes, we have a product, but we have to connect people to that product. So we need people who take great interest in helping others, who like to engage others – people who just like to have conversations. 

What is the Soft Surroundings culture?
Our tagline is: “My time, my place, myself.” Today’s woman balances kids, work, housework, church, social obligations. By the time she’s finished with all that, she needs a place to take time off for herself. We give women a place to go, an opportunity to step into a world created just for them.




MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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