Rock out with your socks out
In the classic film “Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks taught audiences a lot could be learned about a person from their shoes. You just had to look.
The same could be said about Bellingham’s specialty sock store: ModSock. Tucked between a furniture store and a parking garage store on Cornwall Avenue, ModSock’s storefront might be easy to miss. But take a step into Urania Shaklee’s shop, and you’ll be greeted by over 1,000 different styles of socks.
“I think it’s really hard to see that many socks and not be drawn to at least one style,” Shaklee said. Shaklee said what she enjoys the most is when she converts someone from boring solid white or black socks, and turns them on to some design that’s more fun.
Shaklee was previously the owner of The Purple Doorknob, a retail sock store in Ellicottville, New York. In 2011, her husband was looking to move to Bellingham for work, and they’d agreed that it was also a good place to start a sock shop. So, in February of 2012, Shaklee opened ModSock, where she doubles as a sock designer.
“I like the small details, and socks are also affordable,” she said. “Even though it’s just a little flash, a little glitz at the ankle, it can really uplift your day. Everyone wears them, why not have fun with them?”
The city seems to have embraced her passion for socks.
“Even though it’s just a little flash, a little glitz at the ankle, it can really uplift your day. Everyone wears them, why not have fun with them?”
“Bellingham has been amazing with supporting our store,” Shaklee said.
“I think the people in Bellingham are open to unique and fun ways to express themselves.”
Since opening, the store has grown beyond just her. Alongside Shaklee, ModSock staffers have grown with the company and have proven to be assets to the brand’s success.
Lindsey Frazier, a sales associate at ModSock and Western alumnus, believes in the store’s focus on “fun and comfort.”
Frazier grew a passion for clothing and socks during her time living abroad in Japan.
“I actually saw a lot of sock shops,” Frazier said. While shopping in Japan, over time she learned that the business was more than just selling socks — it was really about self-expression.
When she returned to Bellingham and found ModSock, she quickly gained interest in working there, and she has for three years now. Through ModSock, Frazier saw an opportunity to provide space to help people “out of their bubble” as far as fashion goes, especially in the gloomy Pacific Northwest.
“You come in and it’s a rainbow of colors. People are smiling so bright even if it’s raining outside,” she said.
The positive spirit of sock retail, along with the ability to help customers choose meaningful gifts, has made ModSock the happiest environment Frazier said she has ever worked in. She has also built a strong relationship with Shaklee and the staff.
“Urania is probably one of my favorite bosses of all time,” she said. Frazier said that Shaklee is driven to deliver quality socks that suit a wide range of people. “I really want to help her succeed because I think what she’s doing is very genuine and good,” she said.
At the heart of the designs of ModSock socks are a mixture of what is currently trending, combined with what the customers say they want to see on a sock.
Shaklee said that adapting to the wants of the community has helped shape their way of producing socks.“Having customer input is really what’s positioned us to be really good at designing socks,” she said.
Shaklee suggests any customer coming into the store should simply enjoy themselves. “Even for someone who isn’t into socks yet, it’s going to be fun and interesting,” she said. “It’s like walking inside of a rainbow.”
While the retail ModSock store has its set of lineups within their online and in-person store, they are also extending their designs to other stores with their wholesale collection, “ModSocks.”
“We now have socks in enough places that I have friends who might be traveling somewhere and say ‘oh I saw your socks in this store,’” she said. “It’s fun to see them out in the wild.”