Hot Topic Inc.


It all started in 1988. Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi were #1 on the charts, and hair scrunchies, bolo ties and aviator sunglasses were everywhere. A ton of junior accessory and apparel chain stores filled shopping malls, but there wasn’t a cool accessory store for both guys and girls. Then came Hot Topic.
In the fall of 1989, Hot Topic opened its doors in Westminster, California. We’d love to tell you it was a huge success, with hundreds of teens clawing their way into the store, but we’d be lying. Sales were disappointing. Some days we barely made a hundred bucks. Was founder Orv Madden’s vision doomed? It was time to take a step back and re-evaluate. First, our location in the mall wasn’t the best. How the heck could we sell anything if nobody could find us? Then we looked at what was selling-costume jewelry. We started buying more stuff like cross necklaces, unisex earrings and leather bracelets and got rid of hair scrunchies, men’s ties and dress socks. Hot Topic found a niche and its name was music-influenced accessories. Whether it was fingerless gloves like Billy Idol or glam metal bootstraps like Poison, music was definitely the driving force behind teen fashion. After our Westminster customers gave us a reality check, we packed our bags, moved to Montclair, California and rocked their mall with the first Hot Topic store to carry all music-influenced accessories for teens.
As business increased in 1990, adding apparel seemed like a no-brainer, and what better way than to add the ultimate music fan essential-rock tees. At the time, finding a rock tee wasn’t easy. You had to buy ’em from catalogs, small record stores or at concerts. It was unheard of to see a rock tee at the mall, so imagine how our customers flipped when they were able to purchase Bauhaus, The Cure, TSOL and Depeche Mode T-shirts at Hot Topic. Not surprisingly, these 4 titles blew out, so more alternative bands were added. Within a year, we had about 50 different band titles, and rock-inspired clothing lines like Lip Service and Serious were a big chunk of the business. By the end of 1990, we had opened 3 more stores in California and by 1994, Hot Topic was 50% accessories and 50% apparel.
In 1995, Hot Topic had 29 stores open in the Western U.S. and one Midwest store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. We were ready to take the East Coast by storm and opened store #31 in Staten Island, NY. Our customers loved it, and we got a lot of suggestions that we took to heart. Hot Topic has always been about getting feedback, listening and testing new ideas and products. We’re cool like that.
Just like with the whole alternative music thing, Hot Topic customers were drawn to the underground cartoon, cult movie and comic book scenes. It was a unique culture they could call their own, and it was difficult to find merchandise from these licenses. Hot Topic brought the world of South Park, Care Bears, Superman, SpongeBob SquarePants and lots of other pop icons into our stores.
In 1996, with about 60 stores, Hot Topic became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ under the symbol HOTT. The cash from our public offering allowed us to open more stores across the country.
Hot Topic, Inc. continues to rock the malls. There are Hot Topic stores in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Check out the store locator to find the location nearest you.
If you read everything this far, we’d like to say thanks! You’ll find a passion for music in everything we do, and you’ll see that our customers (you) share that same passion. It’s in our stores. It’s at HQ. It’s in our distribution centers. It’s in our product. It’s Everything About the Music. Turn it up.

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7 Replies to “Hot Topic Inc.”

  1. I am looking forward to being a teen model. My sister thinks I should be a model for hot topic. How can i achieve this goal?

  2. The hot topic in Mall of America. I cannot stress this enough, but generally this location has a racial problem. We shopped today and were constantly hassled about what we were buying and what we were buying. We were on a family trip and my sister wanted a shirt. That’s all she wanted to buy a shirt from one of your stores. This location in particular.(Mall of america) My sister’s merchandise was snatched out of her hand and it she was pushed out of the dressing room she was in. Even worse the worker I believe it was a manager, opened the door on her and showing everyone in front of her stall what she had tried on. She was made very uncomfortable the whole time she shopped there. I can’t believe she was treated this way and no-one else was treated this way. At all. We were the only ones in the store who were treated this way. I would discourage others from even touching or coming into this shop just because of the way she was treated. And I’m going to do just that.

    Always Respect your customer!

  3. The guy at hot topic told me I should enjoy Justin bieber and I walked out of the stir yelling JUSTIN BIEBER SUCKS PANIC AT THE DISCO IS AWSOME!!!!!! True story you know

  4. I HATE HOT TOPIC! HOT TOPIC SOLD OUT HARDCORE! now we have lady gaga and justin beiber shirts on the racks and on the store sound system-_- srsly!? what happened to the ROCK shirts like slayer or iron maiden, misfits, guns and roses, or manson, or tool, etc etc. what the hell is going on with all the merchandise, its all crap! they even had nice goth clothes, and wicked looking boots, and bad ass band shirts and now its sponge bob and pokemon! HOT TOPIC AINT WHAT IT USED TO BE AND IT GROSSES ME OUT! people who agree with hot topic are just trying to look the part and dont know squat bout whats rock or metal or the lifestyle. if they think beiber and gaga and lil wayn belong in that category they are sadly mistaken. HOT TOPIC IS NOT ABOUT THE MUSIC, THEY’RE BOUT THE CASH FLOW AND SELLING OUT TO THE TRUE CATEGORY OF ROCK. we used to have a rock, punk, goth style and we were set apart from the rest of those bubble gum popping loli pop loving pop stars and their fan base now they are dominating even the stores we once shopped at for our own unorthodox style.

  5. my first and second online were awful the third order if it is as bad there will NOT EVER be a fourth!!!!! cant get arrival date because they send it out fed ex but it doesn’t arrive to customer by fed ex. fed ex takes it to U.S.P.S that is a joke your tracking number is USLESS. took extra week one order and other was 8 days past. to top it off no order confirmation nothing sat for 1 hr on hold waiting to find out if order even went though… then things were missing wtf. daughter likes some of the items available quality of most we’ve received is worse than wal mart… don’t even know what to say about it. wont buy tees any more they r paper thin garbage and sweatshirts are thin as well. when I spend $70.00 on sweat shirt I expect it to not be something so thin it can be worn on a 78 degree day. should be thick enough to keep you warm at 60 degrees. oh and customer service should be called we just don’t know what to do we read of a script

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