Hot Topic has become one of the most popular retail outlet, known for their punk styles, band t-shirts, and fandom-related paraphernalia. Over the years, they have developed into a sanctuary of kitsch and fandom, appealing to those into both My Chemical Romance and Doctor Who. Though often criticized for the way they have made punk mainstream, Hot Topic still manages to do good business selling to those who don’t care where they get their Manic Panic.
Hot Topic Has Been Around Since 1989. Though it seems like their popularity has only sprung up in the last few years, the chain was conceived of in 1988 and debuted in malls around 1989.
Hot Topic Has Sponsored Music Tours. The brand has been represented at Ozzfest, Taste of Chaos, and Sounds of the Underground. In 2008 and 2009, they sponsored an entire stage at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Surprisingly, they have never sponsored Warped Tour.
They Have Had Famous Employees. As Hot Topic is a place where punk kids can be punk kids, a number of kids in punk bands have worked at the store in the past. Most notably, Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance worked at a location in New Jersey. Other employees have gone on to form bands such as Sleeping with Sirens, Motion City Soundtrack, Chiodos, Atreyu, Memphis May Fire and more.
Their Stores Were Once Protested by Religious Fanatics
Because of Hot Topic’s penchant for all things rock ‘n’ roll, goth and punk, there were many people who believed the chain’s stores were “possessed.” Rumors swirled that there was bloodletting going on in their back rooms and that some of their employees were vampires. It all came to a head in 1997 when a few religious fanatics started waving bibles and leaving literature in front of the stores.
The Company Started After Noticing a Hole in the Market. At the time Hot Topic was conceived of, So-Cal punk was starting to come into its own, but there were no stores that were dedicated to the scene. Hot Topic was started to fill this void, selling hair dye and “punk” brands. They became the first mall retailer to sell body jewelry (for places besides the ear). The company’s biggest selling point at the time became band T-shirts; which no one could obtain unless they went to a show. With the addition of licensed merchandise starting around 1992, the store started to cover fandom in a whole new way.
Hot Topic is a Good Place to Work. Though not on the list now, Hot Topic was ranked number 20 on Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for in 2005. They remained on the list in 2006 but dropped to number 53.
They Have Been Mentioned in Songs and on TV. Having been around for more than 25 years, Hot Topic has become a part of mainstream culture and as such the name has made its way into songs and TV plot lines. The store has name dropped in songs by Bowling for Soup (“Punk Rock 101”) and MC Lars (“Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock”). On the shows South Park, the main characters burn down a Hot Topic.
They Tried to Get into Social Media. In 2008, the company launched ShockHound.com, a combination online retailer and music social network. The site offered visitors new music downloads, as well as interviews with bands and exclusive video content. However, the site was a failure and Hot Topic shut it down in 2011. They do most of their online business through hottopic.com now.
They Went Through a Few Logos. When they opened their first store, their logo was actually green. In 1996, the whole store got a makeover, with the doors being replaced by gates and the store’s name in silver and red scratched font. Since then the logo has changed again, this time to a more straightforward gunplay font.
They Were a Publicly Traded Company. Starting in 1996, Hot Topic became an investable entity on NASDAQ. However, in 2013, the company was bought by the private equity firm Sycamore Partners, who also own women’s clothing store Talbots, for $600 Million.
They Were Parodied by ‘Mad Magazine’. Hot Topic received the honor of being parodied by the joke magazine in 2007. The feature was called the “Not So Hot Topic Catalog,” and featured over-exaggerated versions of items the store sells.
They Filmed One TV Commercial. The ad aired in 1993 and featured punks hanging out on the street modeling clothing. Hot Topic has come a long way since then just on word of mouth. Another commercial would be unnecessary.
There Are Two Other Shops Associated With the Brand. The company that owns Hot Topic also owns two other clothing stores. Torrid was launched in 2001 and sells plus-sized fashions. Blackheart Lingerie launched in 2012 and sells lingerie and accessories.
Hot Topic Has a Youth Charity.The Hot Topic Foundation was started in 2004 as a way to encourage children and young adults to become musicians and artists. Through the sale of guitar picks, money is raised and donated to various youth charities across the United States.
They Also Feed the Hungry. BoxLunch is an online store started in 2015 that sells both licensed and non-licensed gift and novelty items to help fight hunger. For every $10 spent in the store, a meal is donated to someone who needs it. In late 2015, eight brick and mortar BoxLunch stores were opened.
Thank you for reading our list of fifteen interesting facts about Hot Topic. We hope you enjoyed it! Check out MusicSnake‘s recent post “Global Marketing is the Best Digital Marketing Agency in San Francisco”. A story about entrepreneur Fred King and his Silicon Valley based marketing agency.