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Filed under Bridal Accessories, Bridal Gloves, Bridal Jewelry, Bridesmaid Jewelry, Dress Hats, Evening Bags, Hats, Rhinestone Jewelry, Tiaras
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From coast to coast there are small fashion businesses that are thriving in spite of the mountain of obstacles that seem to be in the way.  One challenge new entrepreneur entering fashion face is competition from major retailers with deep pockets.  The previous two blogs examined niche markets that provide safe-haven where big box companies don’t go.  But there is another safe haven where small business shares the market with the majors.  These are the areas of fashion where consumers simply trust small business over the majors to supply the fashion item.  What does that mean?  Well an example can best answer the question. 



There is a very large market of ladies searching for church hats that opens every spring.  Yes, fall is another time for dress hats for church, but spring is more important because it contains the two largest days of the year for church hats—Easter and Mothers Day.  All the major department stores and many of the other big box companies will have a selection of dress hats to meet the demand, but the selection is not extensive, it is not on target with fresh millinery designs, and there is plenty of duplication of styles.  In addition, there is no dedicated area to dress hats that tells a story consumers trust. 


What about small business?  This is where the church ladies go to select new hats for spring and fall.  Why?  First, small businesses that concentrate on church hats make this an important part of their inventory.  The shopkeeper is aware of changing styles and colors for the season, not to mention their expert help to customers in choosing the right hat for their personality and stature.  They also have such familiarity with headwear that showing customers how to wear a hat is almost natural. 


Then there is the unique factor.  One thing women searching for church hats don’t want to happen is to show up on Sunday morning and others are wearing the same hat.  Small millinery businesses have wide selection, but very little duplication of hats in the same style and color.


I don’t believe anyone has ever officially done the statistics, but I feel it is almost certain that the church hats retailed over a season are 80% or higher from small business.  



What day is more important in a woman’s life than their wedding day?  For that reason everything must be perfect.  This day will be frozen in the wedding album for generations to come so brides want traditional elegance.  While some majors venture into the specialized business of bridal accessories, the wedding party mainly trusts the expert advice of professionals in small business. 


Will the bride wear a tiara, a veil, or simply a hair ornament?  They trust small business experts to help make these decisions. 


Should the bride wear gloves?  If so, what length and what design?  And what about the bridesmaids?   There are endless options here from no gloves to wrist length, over the elbow, and opera length.  Brides feel much more confident when they have the input of that small business professional that has accessorized hundreds of weddings and has insight on what looks best for each individual occasion. 


Jewelry is another area that calls for important decisions. Brides planning a wedding have their hands full with all the details of making the occasion perfect.  Accessorizing the gown is one more decision to be made and it is an important one.  Here they often feel comfortable with the advice of an expert.  After all, the choices will appear in nearly every picture in the wedding album for all posterity.  Some gowns look good with necklace sets.  Should it be pearl or rhinestone?  Others call for earrings only. In addition there is the bridesmaid jewelry.  When that expert in small business makes a recommendation, a lot of weight comes off the shoulders of the bride.  They feel reassured because a professional with a history of experience provides input they trust. 


Evening bags are another accessory tailored to each bridal occasion.  Bridal bags for the bride and evening bags for bridesmaids is an option.  Actually, for bridesmaids the evening bags are often given as gifts.  But does the individual wedding call for evening bags?  The small business expert not only helps make the decision, but normally they are the only one selection to provide the bridal bag for the bride and colors for bridesmaids.  Overall, bridal couples trust small business when it comes to an event as important as the wedding day. 



Fascinators were on the rise before the royal wedding, but after that event hit world-wide television, the chart of popularity went straight up.  This is a new addition to headwear and who do consumers trust for the latest innovations in fashion?—Small business of course, usually boutiques. 


Fascinators will be covered in depth in the next blog, but here they are only used as an example of the fast reaction small business has to innovation.  When small business sees new fashion items making a sudden rise in popularity, they get with suppliers and have it in the store within a week or two.  Big box companies don’t operate like that.  Their purchasing was done months ahead of time and buyers have layers of bureaucracy before innovative items hit the floor.  So for the really “new” in fashion, consumers trust small business. 


Fascinators are an excellent example of fashion items that rise suddenly because they are so cyclical.  For centuries they have made a sudden appearance on the fashion scene and then completely disappeared, retuning again for a new generation that views them as entirely new. 


A famous picture of Marie Antoinette wearing a fascinator makes the point.  When high hairdos are in style hats can’t be worn so fascinators are the only choice in headwear.  Over the last few hundred years, fascinators came and went with hair styles.  Most recently, cocktail hats and fascinators became an important fashion statement in the sixties.  But today’s generation doesn’t remember that so they appear to be entirely new.  The important point is fashion items that suddenly rise to popularity consumer expect to find in small fashion businesses and that is where they look. 


This is only a sampling of the fashion items that consumers depend on small business to supply.  How often is small business overlooked or underestimated when we think of the overall retail picture.  They are there and many are thriving because they provide endless products in niche markets that the majors miss and even more important, because the expertise and personal service of small fashion businesses simply cannot be duplicated by the majors in many markets. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Filed under Boas, Dress Hats, Evening Bags, Novelty Hats, Wedding Favors
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 Most retailers that are not located near the beach or tourist destinations appreciate anything that can boost sales in the hot summer months.  With kids out of school and vacations scheduled, the focus is on casual.  For that reason, retailers often overlook the formal side of accessories that fill the needs of June brides.   This three part blog covers the wedding accessories that can pick up summer sales while helping wedding couples deal with escalating costs.  The first two parts covered jewelry, gloves, tiaras, and hair ornaments.  This blog wraps up the bridal accessories that can build sales by filling the couple’s needs at affordable prices without sacrificing elegance.  Let’s start with evening bags. 


Whenever there is a red carpet event, you can expect a showcasing of evening bags.  What does that have to do with bridal?  Well, it tells us what the hot styles are regardless whether its music awards, bridal bags, or bags for bridesmaids.  The last couple of years point to clutches as the number one choice. 

Long clutches have that debonair look that takes us back to the 1960s when Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Grace Kelly brought sophistication to the silver screen.  These elongated clutches are in style more than ever as the most popular choice in evening bags today. 

Satin clutches provides the most elegant and offers color choices that help when choosing bridesmaid bags.  The bride usually needs white or ivory and the rest of the color choices are wonderful for matching bridesmaid dresses.  The most familiar style uses envelope flaps with magnetic closures and the satin can be smooth, pleated, or have a design like latticework. 

Satin provides the utmost in elegance, but trendier materials like faux patent leather, embossed snakeskin, and croc prints are also popular and are useful after the wedding as day into evening bags. 


Other bridal bags use wristlets, soft satin bags, and boxy designs with firm body.  In addition to white or ivory, these bags generally have a wide color selection that matches bridesmaid dresses.  Theses same bags are popular for prom so are even more important in the spring.  While not all bridal parties use evening bags, many do with bags used by the bride and bridesmaids.  The bridesmaid bags are not only an accessory for the wedding day, but often double as bridesmaid gifts.  A nice evening bag selection is not common.  Offering a variety of styles and colors can make your shop a destination for many formal events beyond bridal. 


If anyone thought bridal hats were something of the past, The Royal wedding proved they are still very important and generated enormous interest among prospective brides.   Especially the outdoor wedding, which is growing in popularity, calls for bridal hats.  Even before the wedding bridesmaid luncheons or teas can call for dress hats and when they do, many are in a panic looking for a source. 

You can be that source and hats can open a completely new market you never dreamed of.  Include some bridal and bridesmaid hats and don’t be surprised if customers ask if you can get church hats, homecoming hats, or headwear for teas and luncheons. 


Super widebrims are the dominating trend hats this season.  These add plenty of elegance for outdoor weddings and bridesmaid luncheons.  Most popular is polypropylene wide brim hats with brims that alternated the braided polypropylene and horsehair.  These hats provide white, ivory, and colors in a very fine weave that is continuously sewn to create the headwear.  The result is a Milan straw look. 

In addition, polypropylene dress hats in white that are already trimmed make wonderful bridal headwear as well as dress hats in satin braid, organza, and sinamay. 

The Royal wedding also brought attention to fascinators—smaller hair ornaments often made with lace, ribbon, satin, crystals, and feathers.  Usually worn tilted to one side, the fascinators are major in Britain and those watching the royal wedding saw a parade of styles. 

Fascinators can replace the tiara and work equally as well for indoor weddings as outdoor.  Include some in white because demand is on the upswing. 


Gifts for the bridal party is often challenging because the couple wants to give something nice and meaningful that is also useful.  Bridesmaids are easier.  Already mentioned are evening bags and rhinestone bracelets.  They can accessorize the wedding party and be a gift. 

Another unusual gift that is also useful is writing pens.  A perfect ready to go gift is pewter sculptured pens that come in black velvet boxes with white satin linings.  The weight of the pens reflects quality and a variety of themes fits personalities.  The pens have pewter designs with themes like tulips, golf, best friends, dragons, sealife, and more.  If you prefer a pattern to a theme, choose bamboo, scrollwork, weaved cane and several other patterns.  The nicest thing is no wrapping.  The velvet boxes provide a rich presentation without paper and bows. 

One more idea for New Orleans weddings is fleur-de-lis pins—actually any fleur-de-lis jewelry.  This category even has something for the groomsmen with fleur-de-lis key chains.  A selection of bridal party gifts in your shop can sell for any gift occasion so this isn’t inventory that will stress the shop owner. 



Everything so far has been formal and elegant.  Well, now its time for some fun.  Before all the formalities begin, there a night of fun for the girls—the bachelorette party.  For that, the right attire is needed—we’re talking about things like novelty sunglasses.  These could be margarita shaped glasses, oversize glasses, or Diva designs.  The category is loaded with fun designs so each girl in the party can wear a different one. 


Then there are feather boas.  This is one of the most popular accessories for bachelorette parties.  Everyone can have the same color so people know these party girls are one group or mix them up so each girl has her favorite color.  The boas are a 55 gram weight, which is nice and full because no one wants skimpy boas for a bachelorette party. 

If this isn’t wild enough, add some novelty hats.  Every imaginable design can be found from cute bunny or Dalmatian hats to chickens, tigers, fish, and bees.  Plenty of other wild designs from jesters to mad hatters are also in the section.  So offer the girls a chance to cut up by putting together a party selection in your shop.  This can also grow into something for every kind of party from birthdays to Mardi Gras, but where we want to start is with a fun selection for the bachelorette party. 

So give serious thought to new ways to build sales by setting up a selection for June brides.  This idea can help your summertime sales while benefitting the prospective brides by providing elegance at a savings.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Filed under Evening Bags
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  New Year’s Eve opens the starting gate for a run in formal accessories that includes several upcoming events.  We’re talking about Mardi Gras balls, proms, pageant, dance competition, bridal, and Mother’s Day to name a few. 

Here’s where glitz abounds and rhinestone jewelry sparkles.  However, one often-neglected accessory for these dressy events is the evening bag.  Just the right evening purse in color and style can set off the fabulous gowns for these occasions.  But most shopping destinations are woefully short of evening bags.  So the savvy retailer can take advantage of this situation to attract business. 


Watching the red carpet on academy award night or one of the music award evenings is a lesson in evening bags.  It doesn’t take long to see clutches are dominating the market.  Sleek, long clutches are obviously the celebrities favorite in materials that range from satin to patent leather.  Satin is the utmost in traditional—delivering that silver screen look of the sixties.  This is the bag you expect Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn to carry.  Satin also provides the advantage of abundant color choices. 


Leatherettes and faux patent leather are enjoying growing popularity, especially with today’s trend of day into evening bags.  You can add embossed croc and snakeskin patterns to this category.  The bags range from the typical evening purse size to larger bags that replace handbags for day wear with the same bag used after five. 


Metallic colors are big in the faux leathers with silver and the number one choice.  Some of the clutches have large rings that make the bags wristlets—always a popular style for prom girls.  Smaller wristlets with frilly trim creating a very feminine look are always a big hit at prom time. 


Silver is the color in evening bags that sells out first, but also include white evening purses so you have a selection of bridal bags.  Other colors in the same or similar style provide bridesmaid bags, which is good for the retailer because they usually have multiple sales when the wedding party needs bridesmaid bags. 

Evening bags seem to be a natural fit specialty stores and boutiques and with all that competition out there from big box stores, this can be a plus.  So consider adding evening bags to your formal accessories and bring in some customers for a treat they can’t find anywhere else.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Filed under Evening Bags
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LANA MARKS IS A NAME YOU SHOULD KNOW.  She is a top-scale handbag couturier whose spectacularly glamorous designs have given a touch of elegance and pizzazz to practically every notable woman on the global scene for some years now.


Everybody who is anybody – from Elizabeth Taylor to the late Princess Diana – has carried a Lana Marks bag for special occasions. Saudi princesses adore her.  And, Hollywood just wouldn’t be the same without her!  


Now…it’s not too likely you’ll buy anything Lana Marks has created, but her designs will (and do) affect the look and feel (and “product ambiance,” if you will) of just about every other evening bag sold. So, if you are into evening bags, she is already an important person to you!


COLOR IS THE KEYNOTE of a Lana Marks bag.  These are fabulous, saturated colors:  reds, blues, purples, and sizzling blacks.  The lines are sculptural.  The materials are rich, often shiny, dramatic.  Think satin, ostrich, crocodile and alligator. Then add on diamonds or pearls or other glorious gemstones for decoration.  You can’t get too luxe!


                                             Rather Costly


And the prices?  Eeeeeks!  How about almost $9,000 for one alligator beauty?  Or, $17,900 for a fuchsia tote?

              –Well, now you know why we said you’re not likely to buy one of these spectacular creations. BUT



  • Elegant evening clutch in black crepe satin with gold lurex or silver lurex with silver tone hardware.  This stunning 4 X 10 bag glimmers when it moves and is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn glamour.


  • Embroidered lattice work on a satin backdrop with matching glass beading for subtle shimmer on a luxurious clutch bag.


                                        Palm Beach Posh


Lana Marks is headquartered on posh Worth Avenue in Florida’s Palm Beach.  She also has stores on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, and Madison Avenue in New York, as well as in Dubai, London, Moscow, and Hong Kong. Not bad for a lady who calls her company “small” and refers to herself as “little me in Palm Beach.” 


But…to get back to the bags. Perhaps her most renowned creations are clutches, often highly structured, rectangular, and about twice as long as they are wide.  Her custom made clutches are part of her Cleopatra collection, she explains.

             “Each one is a separate and quite daunting challenge.” 


                                      Cleopatra Clutches


A FABULOUS CLEOPATRA clutch designed by Marks for Julie Christie featured rich red silk shantung with silvery hardware and exquisite ruby/sapphire/diamond trim. A fantastic budget conscious alternative:


Marks designed a gorgeous Art Deco-inspired Cleopatra clutch for 2009 Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.  The silvery clutch encompassed two large diamonds on the flap, boosting its value to…oh! $100,000!  Our version is also gorgeous, and costs no place near that price:

  • Satin evening purse with crystal flower blossom across the top and two large crystals on one end.  Stunning!


A CLEAN-LOOKING CLEOPATRA clutch designed for Jennifer Aniston featured a structured gold frame in shiny black crocodile. This gives the same look:



                                           A Royal Knockout


For Helen Mirren, acclaimed lead actress in The Queen, Marks designed a beautiful white satiny bag with thin diamond encrusted flap.  The bag design was inspired by the royal tiaras in Queen Elizabeth II’s collection. Here is an equally “royal” design:

  • Rows of rhinestones and faux pearls border the flap and embellish the center of this classy evening clutch with scalloped envelope flap.


From queens to starlettes to social aristocrats, Lana Marks has designed bags for them all.  But the amazing thing here is that you can actually have inspirations of the style and mode of these bags at such remarkably affordable prices! 

   — A “Queen for a Day?”  With these bags, you can be Queenly, forever!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Filed under Evening Bags
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New arrivals in wholesale evening bags make us stop and think how important this formal accessory is.  Hardly a month goes by without events that call for evening bags. They are must-have accessories for countless occasions and yet they are in short supply in most retail locations.  So that adds up to ripe opportunity for you. 


Recent arrivals include elongated evening clutches with the sophistication of the golden years of movies.  One style has accordion pleat flaps that provide a rich contrast of textures against the matte bodies.  Colors reinforce the elegance with black, wine, light beige, light grey, and chocolate brown. 



Shiny soft leather continues to be a hot look in evening bags.  Leatherette makes it affordable with the look and feel of lambskin.  New evening clutches apply leatherette to the popular elongated shape for 21st century design.  This material loves the metallic colors so gold, silver, and bronze are choices along with the fall season’s popular black. 



Beaded evening bags introduce a new “wow” factor with fully beaded flaps in floral motifs.  Best of all, these wholesale evening bags have a black and white combination along with a very appealing soft pastel on an ivory background.  Wholesale prices are unbelievably low when you consider all the bead work–something that has to impress your customer. 


Recently we divided wholesale evening bags into sub-categories to help retailers locate their needs faster.  Now there are sub-categories for wholesale evening bags, wholesale evening clutches, and wholesale prom and bridal bags.  Some evening bags cross lines so if your needs aren’t filled in the specific category, search the others because all together there are a few hundred options when you consider styles and color choices. 


The market for evening bags is more year round than most realize, but the peak of the season is approaching with holiday followed by all the events of spring.  So begin preparation to capture this market , which is high demand with low competition.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Filed under Evening Bags
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What accessory is small but spectacular?      

On view, but always discreetly safeguarded?

Elaborate, but essentially functional?

No formal ensemble is complete without today’s premier accessory, the handbag.wholesale evening bags

And evening bags now have special cachet, lots of wow! Fashion power.  They sparkle as the finishing touch for all dress-up occasions…whether day or night.


TOP AMONG DESIGNERS in this category is, of course, Judith Lieber, who has dominated the field since the 1960s.  Over the years, her strictly handmade bags have evolved from craft to the level of fine art, with collections of her beaded, jeweled, sequined, rhinestoned art bags touring U.S. art museums to rave reviews.  The story goes that on her first effort, the  metal bag’s plating arrived sub-standard, so she overlaid rhinestones on all the marred areas, and voila!  Her signature style was born…entrepreneur Lieber had rescued a lemon and turned it into sweet lemonade.

 patent leather-look evening bags

Most sales stem from the special look of an evening bag, but there is a secondary buyer consideration.   For convenience and comfort, evening bags are ordinarily small in size, but they have serious functions to perform for the user.  Ideally, the interior is spacious enough to hold the essential go-out items every woman brings:  ID, key(s), comb, mirror, some money…plus that go-everywhere cell phone or blackberry.  A zippered rear wall pocket plus a slide pocket or two on the front wall is ideal.    But if the outer design is dazzling enough, there can always be compromise.

 minaudiere evening purse

DANCING AND TABLE-HOPPING: Partytime activities call for bag design that is convenient for the wearer.  Today the primary design is the minaudiere (me’no dyer’), a very small dress bag, made of luxe material and often intricately decorated.  The fall fashion shows featured a good array of minaudieres, such as the black beaded, hard-bodied and very small bag by Bottega Veneta, its size fitted snugly to the hand.   Or the feathered, f lat small clutch by Burberry Prosum. — If you are going to merchandise evening bags, get to know the word minaudiere.  It’s French, it’s unusually awkward for that beautiful language, but it is an important term to know.


From exotic python leather to gold lame, the selections are wide enough to match your stock to your customer base.  Satin clutches have pleated, swirled and jeweled detailing.

Totally black beaded, hard-bodied, very small bags may have jewelry-like shoulder chains attached, chains which can be easily removed or tucked away inside the bag, giving it a modern clutch design. Kenneth Jay Lane’s white clutch for fall 2008 features a large, glittering detachable dragonfly pin down the flap. This is a great idea for multiple sales – just add a rhinestone brooch to a plain evening bag for a glamorous duo.  Kenneth Cole offers a glazed leather clutch, complete with a kiss-lock closure and studded wristlet strap.  Plenty of desirable shine!


Popular choices are metal-framed boxes, purse frames, and slightly elongated but narrow rectangular clutch bags.  Black, white, gold, silver and current bright colors make for enticing store displays.  And don’t forget to look for magnetic snap closures, jeweled clasps, glazed leather, lots of bead or stone embellishments.  There’s a delicacy, a glamour to evening bags that belies their planned security for all that lies within.      

                                                     #   #   #   #

 POLITICAL POW!  Michelle Obama turned up at a New York fashion fund-raiser in her honor elegantly outfitted all in black with very fashionable multi-strands of white costume pearls around her neck. The beads had a classic look, not as formal as those the first Mrs. Bush used to wear, instead looser and with a more modern, fluid movement.   “She has impeccable taste, so she is not going to need help from anybody else,” declared fashion designer Peter Som, obviously implying she will one day be First Lady.   The following morning, Mrs. Obama made a relaxed and graceful appearance on “The View,” saying “It’s fun to be pretty.”  She had adorned a black and white dress with a black flower pin on the left shoulder for the shooting.  ‘You put a little pin on it,” she declared, speaking of the simple dress, “and you’ve got something going on.”

—And what about Mrs. John McCain?  She is a real fashion-forward lady, with exquisite taste that is sure to be copied by more than just her political adherents.  Stay tuned over the next few months, and we’ll keep you fashionably up on both of these very special people!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Filed under Evening Bags
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Browse through the malls and specialty shops and it quickly becomes apparent that an affordable selection of evening bags in colors and styles is hardly anywhere to be found.  What an advantage for retailers that offer selection in evening bags, especially this month for June brides. 


This summer is the season of bright colors and matching evening bags took off with prom dresses andevening bags in bright colors continue with cocktail dresses and bridesmaid dresses.  Colors that never received a thought last summer are hot in this season’s palette-red, orange, yellow, turquoise, and apple green to name a few.  Add some color to your evening bag selection and the impact will catch the attention of shoppers.



classic evening bags


Evening bags are about elegance and this is the top selling point for most customers.  Think timeless design that appeals in every era and that is classic elegance.  These evening bags have universal age appeal and work for every formal occasion and after 5 event including dressing up to dine out. 



leatherette evening bags

Leatherette evening bags with that soft shiny leather look has been coming on strong.  This style appeals especially to the young and makes a great presentation with the basic colors like black, white, gold, and silver.  Pewter and bronze are also superb, but when they go to brights like red and apple green, the results are fabulous.   



elongated evening bags


Long evening bags have been making a statement in formal accessories for the last three seasons.  The forties look introduced elongated evening bags a few seasons ago and this shape has been important ever since.  Styles in nearly everything from classic to leatherette will offer some options in elongated evening bags, which are too important to ignore this summer.  The style appeals to the young as well as the mature market and is a favorite as bridesmaid bags.


Evening clutches receive a lot of raves in the fashion magazines with oversize clutches beievening clutchesng a hot trend this summer.  Wholesalers respond with an increased variety of clutches while they are at the top of their popularity.  Most have tuck-away shoulder straps or handles for hands free use.  Today’s selection has a full spectrum of colors and materials to please all the consumers’ tastes. 


bridal bag

Bridal bags have year round demand with white and ivory most important.   Brides prefer delicate feminine looks, but colors are big as bridesmaid bags and this is a popular bridesmaid gift with today’s bridal parties.  Many evening bags have white and ivory as color options, even in styles that feature brights and metallic colors.    


Evening bags are a necessity for formal events or just an evening out, yet selection is very limited in the retail world.  Major events continue year round to drive sales, starting with holiday and then prom plus bridal that never ends.  In addition there are endless smaller events like balls, theatre, dining out, and church functions that call for a dressier look that includes evening bags.  So give consideration to this low competition market that has buying demand based on need rather than whimsical purchases.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, June 13th, 2008