Hot Topic

Hot Topic
Hot Topic, Inc.
Type Public
Industry Retail
Founded 1988 by Orv Madden
Headquarters Industry, California
Number of locations 642 (April 2011)[1]
Key people Lisa Harper, CEO (2011-present); Betsy McLaughlin, CEO (2000-2011); Bruce Quinell, Chairman of the Board
Products clothing, accessories, music
Revenue increase US$761 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Operating income increase US$32.5 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Net income increase US$19.7 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Total assets increase US$371 Million (FY 2009)[3]
Total equity increase US$258 Million (FY 2009)[3]

Hot Topic is an American retail chain specializing in music and pop culture-related clothing and accessories, as well as licensed music on CD. The majority of the stores are located in regional shopping malls.[4] The first Hot Topic store was opened in 1988 by Orv Madden, who retired as CEO in 2000 and was replaced by Betsy McLaughlin, who helmed the company until 2011. Lisa Harper assumed the position of CEO in March 2011. The company went public and began trading on NASDAQ in 1996. In 2006, Hot Topic was placed 53rd on Fortune 500's Top Companies to Work For list.[5]


Product assortment and sales

Hot Topic at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood, California.

Approximately 30% of Hot Topic's revenue comes from sales of licensed band t-shirts.[4] Hot Topic often negotiates exclusive licensing arrangements with musical artists, movie studios, and graphic artists. Fashion apparel for men and women is featured prominently in stores, with products from Lip Service, Morbid Threads, Star Wars, Disney, Sanrio, Psychopathic Records, Social Collision, Heartcore Clothing, Iron Fist, Nintendo, Nickelodeon, web celebrities, Invader Zim, Hopeless Records, Harry Potter, Hip-Hop, and more recently, Doctor Who, Adventure Time, Sons Of Anarchy, and Alice in Wonderland merchandise.

Up to 50% of Hot Topic's sales are generated by accessories, including sunglasses, private-label body jewelry, hosiery, makeup, licensed music artist stickers and other miscellaneous pop-culture items.[citation needed] Accessories generate the most significant amount of profit for the company. Hot Topic drives the profit margin by the use of cross merchandising and suggestive selling. They are also one of the most frequently targeted retailers that suffer shoplifting shrinks.[citation needed]

Torrid division

In 2001, Hot Topic launched Torrid, a concept store that sells clothing for plus-size women.[6] Torrid stores currently carry brands such as Baby Phat, House of Dereon, Dickies, Z. Cavaricci and Apple Bottoms.


In 2008, Hot Topic launched ShockHound, an online retailer and social networking music site. The site features music downloads, interviews and exclusive content. Hot Topic's original website,, was launched in 1997, and ships products to approximately 100 countries.

Hot Topic's European website launched in April 2010 which is now no longer active.[7]

In March 2011, Hot Topic made a public statement citing the shutdown of ShockHound. Once the site is no longer live, all merchandise will be moved to and the company will cease sales of MP3s.

Tour sponsorship

The company has sponsored the 2004 Ozzfest concert tour,[8] the 2005 through 2007 Sounds of the Underground tour,[9] the 2008 Taste of Chaos tour,[10] and had a stage at and sponsored the 2008 and 2009 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tours.[11]

Hot Topic Foundation

The Hot Topic Foundation was formed at the California Community Foundation in 2004, focusing on encouraging children and youth in the pursuit of music and the arts. It has granted approximately $4 million to more than 70 organizations throughout the U.S.[12] Recipients have included the Chicago International Children's Film Festival,[13] Little Kids Rock,[14] Heart of Los Angeles,[15] MIND Institute,[16] the Chicago Humanities Festival,[17][18] Rock Against Cancer,[18][19] Inner-City Arts, Big Thought, IFP Chicago, Spy Hop Productions, Footlights Inc., Carolina Studios Corp and the KIPP Bayview Academy.[18] Money is raised through sales of guitar picks, exclusive music compilations, mints, and reusable shopping bags.[20]

International Expansion

In August 2010, Hot Topic opened two new stores in Canada, which also marked the chain's first two international outlets. The first store opened on August 11 at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and then at Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto, Ontario the following day.[21]


  1. ^ Hot Topic, Inc. Reports 1st Quarter Financial Results
  2. ^ a b c Hot Topic (HOTT) annual SEC income statement filing via Wikinvest
  3. ^ a b Hot Topic (HOTT) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest
  4. ^ a b "Hot Topic Annual Report 2007" (pdf). Hot Topic, Inc.. 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  5. ^ "100 Best Companies To Work For 2006". Fortune 500. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Ratliff, B (2004-07-16). "Rock Review: Ozzfest Trudges On, Laden With Sponsors and Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  9. ^ "Official Website". Sounds of the Underground. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  10. ^ Peters, M (2007-12-20). "Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu Set For Taste Of Chaos". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "California Community Foundation - Hot Topic Foundation". California Community Foundation. 
  13. ^ "CICFF Home". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  14. ^ "Little Kids Rock: Music Matters". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  15. ^ "Support HOLA - Sponsors". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  16. ^ "MIND Institute Annual Report" (pdf). 2007-12-31. pp. 7. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  17. ^ "Chicago Humanities Festival 2008 Annual Report" (pdf). 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  18. ^ a b c "Hot Topic Foundation - Charities". Archived from the original on 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  19. ^ Albin, A (2008-05-29). "Rock Against Cancer and Hot Topic Foundation Support Music Therapy Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA". UCLA Health System. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  20. ^ "Hot Topic Foundation". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  21. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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