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Small Business Saturday is a concentrated effort to get shoppers to frequent small businesses when shopping.  This probably has limited success.  The real advantage for small business is their position as the only game in town for many categories that consumers want.  Since fashion jewelry and accessories is the focus of this blog, that will be the area we will cover.  Here are three categories of merchandise that are somewhere between hard and impossible to find in the halls of the majors.

 

WIDE SELECTION OF HOLIDAY JEWELRY AT SMALL BUSINESS

Christmas parties and New Years Eve will create a frantic search for dresses and accessories that will stand out. dramatic crystal choker from small business  Dresses will be everywhere in the big box stores.  But what about the crystals and rhinestone jewelry to accessorize them? In this category, the majors are weak.  Look at the showcases of leading department stores an you will see the selection is limited.

 

The place to find a wide selection of rhinestone and crystal jewelry that will be the perfect match for an outfit is small business—specialty shops that have a generous selection of sparkling jewelry for head-tuning looks.

lavish crystal jewelry

From lavish crystal necklace sets that made their entrance into the formal jewelry market in 2013 to understated sets that appeal to more conservative shoppers, specialty stores in small business have the selection.

 

If shoppers prefer to accessorize with glamorous earrings rather than a necklace set, these same shops have plenty of options.  And they also have a selection of bracelets to complete the look.

 

SMALL BUSINESS HAS QUALITY CHRISTMAS JEWELRY

nostalgic Christmas pin available at small business

There’s another aspect of Holiday jewelry—the Christmas jewelry that is part of those warm childhood memories that still bring joy.  Classy Christmas jewelry is becoming an endangered species.  Creating quality fashion jewelry is an art.  From design to excellence in craftsmanship requires time and diligence.   Many manufacturers feel the effort isn’t worthwhile for a short season.  But small entrepreneurs are relentless in their search for exceptional items to please their customers.

 

One of the leaders in manufacturing quality fashion jewelry is “Best.  Their Christmas line goes through all the processes of expensive sterling silver.  Like many other exclusive lines, the only place to find this Christmas jewelry is small business locations.

Christmas pendant

“Best” has a signature process of stamping detailed designs form a thin sheet of metal.  The jewelry has raised relief and a precisely cut plate seals the back just like sterling.  Next comes plating, polishing, and sometimes color with epoxy.  Most pieces are pendants that can also be worn as pins.  When your customers buy this Christmas jewelry to give as gift, they are giving the next generation of quality collectibles.

 

ACCESSORIES IN THEMES—A SMALL BUSINESS EXCLUSIVE

Accessories in themes carry a message caring and sincerity.  The giver took time to search for a gift that is really meaningful to the receiver.

 

Scarves in Themes

theme scarves

Scarves are an example.  Oblong polyester scarves are a classy accessory with the look and feel of silk.  Their popularity is timeless.  While other scarves trend up and down, consumers never tire of these oblongs.  They come in an infinite number of prints, but one strong feature about these scarves in themes.

 

Searching the site turns up major categories of these scarves in religious themes, music themes, and nearly every seasonal theme.  Other themes include floral, pets, fleur-de-lis, occupations, and animals from horses to elephants.

Poinsettia Christmas scarf

Since this is Christmas, scarves for the season are certainly very popular.  The poinsettia scarf shown really connects with consumers.

 

 

 

 

Ties in Themes

fleur-de-lis ties

What about gifts for men?  The traditional gift has always been ties. Every year Dad gets a tie.  This year it can be special with theme ties. Choose from ties for occupations, sports, sea life, gaming, as well as seasonal ties.  There are entire categories dedicated to American flag ties and Christian ties.  Fleur-de-lis ties are a favorite men’s gift in Louisiana.

 

How many times have you heard—it’s hard to shop for men?  Now you can find something meaningful in themes for men.  Only small business offers all these themes in ties.

 

THE SOURCE OF SPECIALTY GIFTS IS SMALL BUSINESS

Church hats

Anyone searching for a specialty gift has to think of small business.  In many cases, it is the only place to find these items.  One good example is church hats.  A favorite gift for moms that wear a hat to church on Sunday is church hats.  We have been in the wholesale jewelry and accessory business for 28 years and it was true even before that.

 

Where in the world can a person go to buy Mom a nice winter church hat for Christmas?  Who is going to have a selection?  You have to find a specialty shop handling these hats.  And that is going to be a small business location.  They have the shapes, colors, and styles that gives the shopper options.

 

This is one example.  Small business is the source for nearly every niche and specialty item. When the Holidays are over, consumers still need small business.  Who has the selection of prom jewelry, pageant and dance accessories, Mardi Gras items, and a big selection of Easter hats?   Small business not only supplies consumers’ needs, it also provides more than half the jobs in America. It is great to have these industrious entrepreneurs with their enduring creativity.  They are the hardy breed that battles every obstacle striving to survive and succeed.

Comments (0) Posted by Michael Gietl on Friday, November 29th, 2013

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Read economic trends and you get depressed.  Read business marketing trends and you get confused.  Social media, going mobile, branding, user-generated content—what if your customer doesn’t even use that stuff?  What if your customer is over 50?   

 

Been to a swap meet or flea market lately?  Especially those once a month or once every six month kind that draw tons of shoppers.  Those people are out their combing through merchandise, touching it, and enjoying the dust and heat.  This is old school. 

 Smallbiztrends.com recently ran a series of articles under the title, Small Businesses Go Old SchoolIt’s back to the good old days.  Old fashioned sales ideas, old fashioned products, and conversations instead of sales pitches. 

 

One article in the group said a mouth full—“Attitude is Everything”.  Apparently the full article is no longer on line, but it came from MyCentralJersey.com and began, “Forget gloomy economic predictions and depressing statistics.  Small business success goes back to a very simple concept.  Attitude is everything.  A positive attitude and persistence will lead to success.” 

 Already we feel better.  Already we are beginning to have creative ideas run through our head.  Here’s a few to help prime the pump.  Let’s go back to that swap meet scene.  Ever notice how shoppers draw more shoppers.  Pretty soon they are so deep they can’t get close enough to see what is on your table. 

 

PICKING A PRODUCT

So the product needed has to galvanize attention.  It has to hold the customers attention so they stick to your booth like glue.  A gang of shoppers around your merchandise is better that a big flashing sign.  What kind of products do that?  Products that stir memories, pull at the heart strings, or entertain. 

 Here’s a few ideas.  Pets are loveable and always draw a crowd. Some are easy to transport like hermit crabs.  If that’s not your cup of tea, what about little action toys or novelties that are cute and entertaining.  You have seen those small cartoon-like characters that wind up and move around, flip, walk, and who knows what else.  They engross everyone around. 

 What about nostalgia?  What about an eighties booth with jewelry and articles from the eighties. Items for this era are easier to find than decades farther back like the sixties.  It also expands your customer base because a greater percentage of the population can say—Oh, I had one of those.

 

If you are going with new merchandise, you have to make a statement. You need a booth full of items in one theme.   And you want it to have the stickiness that engrosses customers so they have to stay awhile.  Even the ones that don’t buy will help your business because, like we said, a crowd draws a bigger crowd.     

 GEMSTONE JEWELRY

If your choice is new merchandise, think about gemstone jewelry–jewelry made with all those semi precious stones that are so unique.  Customers feel this jewelry is worth something.  They know tiger’s eye, rose quartz, and amethyst and equate these stones with value. 

 

In gemstones you get designs, colors, inclusions, banding—everything you can imagine to build interest and tell a story.  Let them touch it.  It feels cold because it is real.  Try to scratch it, most semi precious stones are harder than steel.  It doesn’t take long to learn the semi precious stones and once you do, you can tell stories all day.   

 PENDANTS, MATCHING EARRINGS, AND CHOKERS

Another great crowd builder is Best Brand’s line of pendants, earrings, and chokers.  Why?  Because of impeccable quality and endless designs and themes.  Imagine all those shiny pendants with themes from ballerinas, soccer moms, and yorkies to barrel racing, dolphins, and zebras.  Each one stamped with amazing detail in raised dimensions.

 

Every piece is unique and something is going to pull your customers’ heart strings.  Want matching earrings?  Most pendants have them.  And the line has over fifty different chokers so customers can put their own combinations together and change up the look. This gives the customer a chance to be creative and get involved. 

 

It’s not just themes holding the crowd, it’s also quality the eye can see.  This is the Cadillac of fashion jewelry.  Some items are castings, but most are stamped and molds for stamping are far more expensive than ones for casting. 

 

That’s only part of the story.  This company starts with a thin sheet of steel and stamps the design so the pendant and earrings have a raised three-dimensional look.  Then stamping cuts a thin sheet of steel to fit the back perfectly and seal it.  Next, the jewelry is plated and polished.  The height of quality craftsmanship plus detail that is unbelievable galvanizes the shoppers.    

 

A customers may start by just admiring the imaginative designs of this line, but then a theme will strike them as something they love or would be meaningful to someone they care about.  “How much is this one?” and the rest is history. 

 

THE REST IS UP TO YOU

These are only a few ideas to spark your own creativity.  It’s your own ideas that will put together the winning formula.  It is your drive and attitude that will not accept setbacks.  Remember where we started, “Attitude is everything”.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Saturday, July 14th, 2012

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IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO that New York’s Garment District was the bedrock of American fashion.  It was a busy hub of happily employed artisans, designers and manufacturing concerns.  With the globalization of commerce, much of this activity was transferred offshore, where production costs were a fraction of domestic…labor especially.

NOW THERE’S A RESURGENCE not only of manufacturing in New York, but of fashion industry paired with government efforts to re-establish NYC as the foremost FASHION CENTER OF THE WORLD.  Here are some of the current happenings:

A major promotion is titled FASHION NYC 2020, and it’s a coming-together of local industry leaders and select members of Mayor Bloomberg’s staff.  Brainstorming sessions are already underway to come up with innovative ideas and promotional planning to advance all phases of fashion and accessories merchandising within the 5 boroughs of New York City across the coming decade. The focus is on job creation and successful business operations for wholesale and retail firms, from very small to very substantial fashion enterprises.

[WHAT’S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK CITY HAS REAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR CITIES AND COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  THERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC IDEAS HERE FOR YOUR TOWN, TOO!]

Young Talent

The New York project also factors in new beginnings:  the mayor’s office is looking to foster young talent to provide long-term impetus to secure the City’s top-level status both in the mechanics of the fashion and accessories industry as well as the entire spectrum of retail.  Panel discussions feature leaders in everything from design to sourcing and manufacturing and retail, all already actively operating in New York.

— At a dinner held at Macy’s Herald Square recently, fashion executives freely expressed their opinions and what they viewed as basic needs at this juncture.  City officials at each table were seen taking notes.

WOMEN EXECUTIVES WORKING IN THE FASHION WORLD AND LOOKING TO PRESENT A CHIC, PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE  MIGHT CONSIDER ACCESSORIES FOR JUST THE RIGHT FINISHED LOOK.  SOME EXAMPLES:

  • Bow crystal pin adds a handsome accent to a business suit or tailored dress.

Ways and Means Committees

Ideas range from promos like Fashion’s Night Out, scheduled for September 10th, with possibly no sales tax, and special events to draw retail customers.   They’re looking for new ways to stimulate tourism linked to local shopping, again with hot-button angles, such as discount coupons or subsidized travel-to-NYC tickets.  Also under discussion are ways to shorten lead time for sources, so that stores can display fashions and accessories not for a coming season, but for right now.

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP—ALREADY!

Statistics bode well for the City:  today there are over 800 fashion businesses in NYC, more than in any other fashion capital worldwide.  (Paris, the second largest, has half that number.)  These produce $10 billion of business that bolsters the economic health of NYC.  In recent years, a good number of designers have looked to domestic sources manufacture their wares.   It’s a matter of balance:  yes, it is cheaper to have manufacturing done in, say, China.  But long-distance supervision of the manufacturing process doesn’t work for many, and for younger designers especially, manufacturing questions or complications are best dealt with in person.

—Also, you eliminate high shipping costs… and now the dollar exchange is weak against a number of other currencies, another factor that increases costs.

A key stumbling block is that offshore manufacturers want to contract with firms that order the highest volume, bypassing smaller orders or, as one designer put it, “putting me at the end of the line.”     Language also can pose communications problems or misunderstandings.  Here, designers have face-to-face control.

Mayor Bloomberg has worked with agencies and the private sector to provide “perks” such as offered by the NYC Fashion Incubator, providing help to promising fashion designers—not only services, but, importantly, studio space at a discounted rental to regular NYC real estate rates.  Once established, it is hoped that these designers, with local roots and connections, will base their operations in New York.

COSTS CAN ALSO BE CONTROLLED BY FINDING THE RIGHT RESOURCE FOR PRODUCTS AVAILABLE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.  SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT WE MEAN:

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Another goal is to heighten the prestige of the “MADE IN NEW YORK” label. With a concerted effort, that shouldn’t be hard:  there’s just so much excitement and glamour that has always been linked to the City, including its history as American fashion mecca.  The label should be prized for all it represents:  REBIRTH OF NY’S FABLED GARMENT CENTER—JOBS AND ALL!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 21st, 2010

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VALUE.   That seems to be the buying demand of consumers as we move into the big Christmas 2009 season.  Practicality and thrift are the over-riding considerations as buyers make their way into the sales arena, planning on picking up special gifts for family and friends. 

 

According to Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor, women will be decidedly prudent about what and how they buy this holiday season.”  Sensible gifts are high on the agenda, things like gift cards, toys, and apparel.  Fashion Accessories rack up high popularity figures, too, as they are easy to purchase, don’t require sizing, and can inject a touch of luxury, often at a reasonable price.

 

        HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC GIFTS THAT FIT THOSE CRITERIA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            Control Factor

 

                                            

Value added was of strategic importance in the minds of many prospective customers.  For example, many women said that investing in apparel that is practical but still has special details that set it apart makes them feel like they are getting value for money well spent. 

   –Casual designs were also put high on that practicality list, like handbags that have special compartments for carrying different items, or jewelry that has interchangeable pendants or that can be worn in several different ways.  More for less: that’s the call.

 

                                              Smaller Items

 

“I think women are going to go for the affordable fashion item,” said Michelle Madhok, an internet fashion editor. “Smaller items are also big this year, like fingerless gloves, infinity cotton scarves, and anything faux fur, like trapper hats.”

 

Women are also looking to get more for their dollar.  A remarkable 96 percent of females polled said they will be looking for sales this year.  That’s a really high number!  What’s also a big number, and even more disturbing, is that 64 percent of the polled women said they will be spending less money on gifts this year. A lot will be going the internet route, buying on line despite the added cost of shipping. That will make retailers’ work a little more difficult, as they run to get a bigger share of buyers’ diminishing gift-purchase budgets.

 

                                                  Steps To Take

 

What steps can you take to increase your income this Christmas?  Industry sources say, first and foremost: 

  • Give and emphasize personal service. Don’t just let customers buy or leave the store.  Help them choose good gifts.  Be a consultant. 
  • Offer a well-chosen collection of gifts at different price points.  Keep your choices somewhat below price.  Remember that “sales” element women talked about wanting!
  • Go for practicality with added value.  A touch of glitz to an otherwise practical design is great! 

 

GIFTS WITH ADDED VALUE WILL APPARENTLY BE BIG SALES ITEMS THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON.  HERE ARE SOME THAT COULD ADD BIG VALUE TO YOUR HOLIDAY INVENTORY:

 

 

 

 

 

                                             The Power of Gift Cards

 

SOME OF THE Lifestyle Monitor’s survey figures are really interesting and can be extremely helpful to fashion accessory retailers.  For example, two in three females said they would prefer a gift card over an actual gift.  Women like the idea of being able to buy what they personally want, instead of accepting the tastes and decisions of another.  They increasingly appreciate being able to control their own lives, in all of many ways, large and small.

 

 

This is a good point for retailers to keep in mind.  Gift cards give control to the receiver.  They are easy to make up (you can do it on you computer!) and make for a quick sale.  Just be sure to give each one a number and back it up with sales information to use when it is brought into your store.  Put up a sign in the store showing that you have gift cards available, and put some effort into selling them.

 

It is usually easier to sell a card for anything in your store than to sell a particular item!  But remember: Gift Cards should be for purchase only, not for refund!  Idea:  If you are unsure of how to design and write up a Gift Card, just pick up an inexpensive one at your local department store and copy the layout.

 

WHICH BRINGS US TO AN IMPORTANT PLACE IN HOLIDAY PLANNING. A few hours taken out to visit your premium stores can pay off big this time of year.  The majors usually get their Christmas decorations up early, so now is the time to get out with a pad and pen to jot down some of the creative things they’ve done that you especially like. Ask yourself: What good looking decorations can you duplicate in your store?  A Christmas Tree decorated with jewelry?  A Tropical Christmas theme? A Rock ‘n Roll Holiday?  This is a wonderful season.  Enjoy it!  Help your customers enjoy it, too. After all, everybody wants to be happy. 

   –And you know what?  Happy customers usually buy! 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, November 28th, 2009

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RESEARCH FROM STANFORD UNIVERSITY contends that one in 20 adults is a compulsive shopper, buying all kinds of things that aren’t needed.  That’s a big change from our great-grandmother’s day, when shopping was almost totally restricted to necessities.   

Now, the research gurus say, shopping fills all kinds of emotional needs.  People go to the mall to meet friends, to be entertained, to make themselves feel better, to pretend to be wealthy, even to lose weight.  It’s a multi-purpose pastime.

 

The interesting thing here, though, is how much can be learned from these new shopping parameters. 

 

Dr. Kit Yarrow, professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, says, “These days what you buy is a way to connect to others and showcase your personality and values.” 

 

                                       The People Connection

 

So, let’s look at this from the other side … which is to say, not the buyer’s but the seller’s point-of-view.  If the research holds true, retailers who can help prospective customers connect to others are certainly going to sell more.  In addition, if the products they sell can be shown to effectively showcase the buyer’s personality and values, well…that’s going to be a major success story!

 

But, how can all of this be accomplished?  A new idea surfacing in retail circles has to do with one-on-one selling to limited numbers of customers.  This is done through small, after-hour new product introductions, or afternoon tea and cookies in the store, or any of several other gatherings, where customers can meet others of like interests. 

 

SHOWING OFF CHILDREN’S JEWELRY TO A SMALL GROUP OF YOUNG MOTHERS IS A GREAT WAY TO MERCHANDISE.  THINK ABOUT THESE DELIGHTFUL PRODUCTS:

 

 

 

 

  • Paw print jewelry for kids – which could be more fun?  Show off school colors, too!  Small post earrings to match!

 

                                  Posters and Lifestyles

 

 

SHOWCASING THE BUYER’S personality and values is a little harder to pull off effectively, but not impossible. Using posters of celebrities that express the general temperament of your customers is one way to connect your products to desirable lifestyles. You can give your store a lot of class and style with celebrity posters alone, and people will associate the products you sell with these personalities.  It’s a powerful psychological technique! 

 

–And, by the way: Most companies will be delighted to send you posters of their goods if they think you will display them attractively in your store.   That could include cute pictures of the Geico gecko (green is a hot color this year) or a serene picture of a Florida beach (great for family resort—you add the big-brimmed hats and beach bags).

 

                                   Dreams and Imaginations

 

YOU SEE, it is all about how you present things to your customers. How you play on their dreams, their wants, their imaginations.  If he or she is interested in status, you might put some pictures of Bentleys around.  If family life is what comes first, add pictures of children.  If being hip is the prime image-interest, play some very NOW rock music.  Get your store into the mood in order to get your customers into the mood.  It’s almost guaranteed to sell more.

 

And, as you do it, display your merchandise.  Connect the desired personality to your jewelry.  To your handbags.  To scarves.  Talk up the connections.  A little work in this new arena should bring you profitable rewards!

 

HERE ARE SOME ACCESSORIES TO BUILD CUSTOMER INTEREST ON:

 

  • Gorgeous wholesale fashion jewelry inspired by Murano glass.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                #   #   #   #

 

 

       QUICKIE NOTE I:   ACCESSORIES AND THE MUSIC CONNECTION                                             

 

DON’T MISS GEORGIA MAY JAGGER, the new face of Hudson Jeans, in a major advertising blitz soon to break on the fashion world.  The daughter of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, the petite blond beauty gives new meaning to pricey jeans and proves that the music and fashion worlds continue to be inextricably connected.  A major addition to Jagger’s great denim outfits: A metallic mélange of bangle bracelets worn in multiples.  This is a look that just won’t give up!

   — Oh, yes, despite the gloomy economic environment, the premium denim category grew in 2008, which “is a pretty amazing thing,” the company admits.  Sales rose 16 percent over 2007!

 

YOU CAN TAP INTO THE SAME TRENDY ACCESSORIES’ LOOK WITH THESE HIGH-STYLE, WELL-PRICED BRACELETS:

 

  • Animal print bracelet with acrylic oval links with smoky transparency that allows leopard print to radiate through.

 

 

 

  • Multiple row tribal bracelets – color, handcrafted appearance.    

 

 

                      QUICKIE NOTE II:  BYE BYE BLUE

 

THE LONG-STANDING RETAIL BLUE LAWS of la belle France seem to be buckling under the weight of popular demand plus…the backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy.  The French Senate has passed a bill that will let more stores stay open on Sunday, despite the opposition of the Socialist Party.  If passed into law, stores selling a wide variety of goods, including fashion and accessories, will be allowed to remain open on Sundays in most major cities such as Paris and Marseille.

   —Under a 1906 law, stores in France are required to close on Sundays, unless they sell food or have “cultural value” (such as bookstores), or if they are located in critical tourist areas.  Sundays in France have traditionally been reserved for rest and family.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, August 3rd, 2009

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Look out, U.S. retailers, the flamboyant Topshop has arrived on our shores, and with its first flagship store in New York’s chic SoHo, the hot U.K. chain plans to grab as big a slice as possible of the American teen market. 

 

This is no minor event.  As one retailer put it, SoHo hasn’t seen such a retail phenomenon since Bloomingdale’s opened its annex for contemporary fashion in 2004.  Its product cache of cheap, irreverent clothes and its in-store dramatics of at-the-moment hot happenings make Topshop a tough competitor.

 

Indeed, this is a store that knows what it is doing. The new SoHo space itself is pretty spectacular, covering four floors and 40,000 square feet with about 2,000 stock keeping units of everything from sexy sequined dresses to skin-tight body suits and color-blinding accessories, all at a broad price range.

 

                                            Voodoo Shop

 

There are trendy looking mannequins everywhere, and specialty shops within the shop catering to a wide spectrum of tastes and interests, from Goth to Romantic.  There’s a Trend shop for the latest fashion buzz, a shop for hot graphic Ts, and a Voodoo shop for all things dark and dangerous, to name just a few. On the mezzanine is a DJ booth for wild rock music, played on every big shopping day and special occasion.  

 

YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM THIS EUROPEAN RETAIL INVASION.  ZERO IN ON YOUR MARKET, REV UP YOUR SELLING WITH ON-TARGET SIGHTS AND SOUNDS, AND TREND-PICK YOUR PRODUCTS WITH GREAT CHOICES LIKE THESE:

  • Faceted Swarovski crystals hang delicately off an ankle bracelet of fine beaded chain. A swinging trend item!

 

 

 

  • A stretch bracelet with all-around little rectangles left open for photos. Fits the teen mode perfectly!

 

                                 A New Business Formula

 

Topshop is one of several major international chains revolutionizing the business of ready to wear.  Its big innovation is Cheap Chic: offering trendy fashion at reasonable (and often dirt-cheap) prices.  It also offers a big plus for the young crowd: QUICK PRODUCT CHANGE. 

 

Instead of buying products in quantity, discounting those that are slower sellers, and reordering faster-selling items, the NEW RETAIL IDIOM is:

  • buy thin (i.e., small orders)
  • sell fast, and then
  • buy brand new items. 

The stores don’t discount. They always have new merchandise, which makes them incredibly attractive, especially to young buyers. 

 

How can Topshop pull off this wizardry of making the trendiest of styles affordable and then bringing them to market fast?  According to Associated Press, this is the basic formula:  They design, manufacture, and deliver their up-to-the-minute stocks to stores worldwide within weeks, in contrast to the months of lead time department stores and most traditional retailers require.

 

                                       Good Pricing

 

Who are these big time Cheap Chic winners?  Well, the whole new idea started with H & M, a Swiss company that brought its new retail philosophy to the USA in 2000, giving The Gap (the world’s largest clothing retailer) incredible competition. As New York retail consultant Howard Davidowitz puts it, “Gap has been underwater for six or seven years.  It simply can’t compete with these new Cheap Chic shops.”

 

Other fast fashion shops, like Zara’s and Mango, are doing just as well, even in the present recessionary atmosphere. Of course, good pricing is an added element of their success.  Some products, like t-shirts, can be extremely cheap, running just a few dollars.  Others can run up to a couple of hundred dollars, but they are usually the fast-fashion shop’s interpretations of couturier products; i.e., sandals that mimic an Yves Saint Laurent $1,000 design are less than $150 at Topshop.

 

YOU CAN LATCH ON TO THE TOPSHOP WINNING SYSTEM!  START BY CHOOSING TEEN-SMART ITEMS WITH A HIGH QUALITY TO PRICE RATIO:

  • A prom sensation!  This stunning 3″ pageant tiara features clear crystals in scrolling designs.  Show it off NOW!

 

 

 

  • Design-savvy with the current formal fashion trends is this luxe silver leatherette evening clutch. Just right for the big-dance night!

 

                           Revamping Shipping Schedules

 

American companies are running fast to catch up with the new retail formula and at least equal if not outsmart these new European fashion merchandisers.  American Eagle says it is shipping new merchandise to its stores every two weeks.  Abercrombie & Fitch is also straining to deliver product with shorter lead time.  Not everyone is able to pull this off, but for many, mastering the new formula could be a matter of survival.

 

Consider this:  Today’s teenagers are living in a whole new world where “fast” is taken for granted.  Time, alternative publications shout out, is “speeding up.” Listen to the music of just a few decades ago, like the 60s, and then listen to today’s music. Wow!  That old stuff sounds like a dirge! Today’s generations speak faster, move faster, think faster, and buy faster.  From a retail point of view, it comes down to this: If it doesn’t sell NOW, it isn’t going to sell later. Scary.

 

Of course, not everybody wants new merchandise every couple of weeks.  Older customers, in particular, are traditionally much less mesmerized by the marketing hurricane of NOW.  They often latch on to a great look, and want to stay there, with just a few concessions to trend.  But to kids, immediacy is where it is at. And kids buy.  And buy.  And buy. 

 

It’s something to really think about….

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, April 13th, 2009

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TIFFANY HAS OPENED a new “concept” store in Glendale, California, that is a radical departure from the firm’s usual buttoned-down selling.  The new store is smaller than former Tiffany emporiums, more casual, more comfortable.  Price points are lower, too, running from $80 to $42,000, with an average of $200 to $5000.  What’s this got to do with you?   A lot, if you retail costume or fashion jewelry. 

—Stay with us:

 

The idea, Beth O. Canavan, Tiffany executive vice president says, “is to zero in on the contemporary fashion collections and showcase them in a more artful and accessible way.  We said, ‘Forget about the rules.  Let’s think about how women shop.’ ”

 

                                            The Thrill of Adventure

 

CANAVAN SAYS IT TOOK two years to develop the concept plan, during which time the company learned that women are looking for a sense of adventure when they shop. To appeal to this desire, Tiffany has changed its entire showcasing of merchandise, showing jewelry for the first time by style and category. Tiffany has traditionally shown jewelry by metal.

 

Large collections of bangle bracelets and stackable rings are openly displayed. There is also a charm bar. Some jewelry is in drawers that customers are invited to open. Wow!  Is this Tiffany?  Canavan calls it “an evolution of the jewelry box.”  We call it radical!

 

  • COPY THE DISPLAYS AND FOCUS ON THE MERCHANDISE. You can get the Tiffany effect with bracelets customers can try on, and charms they can touch and admire.  Consider 13 mm ampersand (&) rhinestone charms – fun to use, fun to give anyone involved with words. Or, choose a pack of 8mm rhinestone letter charms.  You can spell out a favorite name or statement, from William to Love, to Peace.  Great!

 

                                               Jewelry Stylists

 

The store walls have also been put to work, with displays of top jewelry designers’ works and demonstrations of how jewelry can be mixed and matched.  Employees, too, have been upgraded and trained for a new sales category as jewelry stylists.  

 

The interior design is aimed at creating an atmosphere of “hushed elegance.”  Colors are basically neutral: browns, creams, and whites.  Rosewood, glass and white oak are important interior elements, along with ceramic stone flooring, tan carpeting, and a gold leaf ceiling.  The firm’s well known signature blue is present on digital screens with soothing imagery.

 

  • THINK ABOUT THAT “SIGNATURE BLUE” COLOR: Consider developing a special color for your store.  You can maximize the color impact by always keeping a collection of accessories in that color on display.  Soft wholesale prom bags come in a variety of colors – blue, purple, peach, and hot pink – and make a great centerpiece for color display.  The bags are made of soft satin, and feature zipper tops and horizontal pleats. 

 

 

 

                                 
                               Expanding the Customer Base

 

CANAVAN ADMITS THE STORE may attract customers looking for lower priced items than Tiffany usually carries. But, that’s no disadvantage!  The new customers are expected to be in addition to Tiffany’s faithful followers. 

 

In appealing to both a new and existing customer base, Canavan says, Tiffany will be very careful and considerate about where and how it places the new concept boutiques.  So far, Tiffany has tentatively targeted 70 new locations for the stores, and plans to open 2 or 3 annually.  Two are expected to open this year, with an additional four in 2010. 

 

A Fashion Industry observer liked the idea the minute he saw it.  “For the first time, they have broken down barriers so you can touch and try on,” he said.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 9th, 2009

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BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  There is a saying that you either love them or you hate them…but that is not necessarily so.  The key is to find the right books for the right person, and then everything changes.  My youngest nephew, who wouldn’t go near a book with a ten-foot pole, became totally entranced with reading when my sister gifted him with a hands-on how-to manual for building your own sports car. 

 

There are business people who feel the same way.  Some read incessantly; some hate reading with a passion.  Put the right books in their hands, though, and chances are both camps will come together with enthusiasm. It’s a matter of focus.

 

We found several books we thought professionals would enjoy, books that tap into a basic business drive for success. Directly or indirectly, these are books that show you how to increase the green in your wallet without making a pact with the devil.  (If you want to make a pact, though, try reading Faust, which is not on our list.)

 

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Just Enough Anxiety:  The Hidden Driver of Business Success (Portfolio, $24.95)  by Robert Rosen. 

The author, who is head of Healthy Companies International, contends that anxiety can actually be a boon to your business life, if you have the tools to harness its power. In this intriguing book, Rosen describes the five leading indicators of business success and shows how the reader can emotionally access them.

 

Breakdown, Breakthrough:  The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose (Barrett Koehler, $16.95)  by Kathy Caprino. 

Real life examples of women who have succeeded in business give this book special verve and authenticity.  It lists twelve very particular challenges that face women in the working world and shows how they can be overcome.  It all has to do with making your own success breakthrough.   

 

  • TO MAKE READING EASIER:  Choose from a variety of handsome reading glasses in all the popular powers. These high quality glasses feature plastic or metal frames in a variety of colors.  Arms are spring loaded and lenses are aspheric, a thinner, flatter design that helps reduce distortion. Glasses are available in half and full lens for both men and women.  A very stylish rectangular glass with unexpectedly attractive frame is hot, trendy.  An excellent reading glass for men is oversized, with designer-look metal frame.

 

                                     

How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Around the World (AMACON, $21.95)  by Frank Acuff.

This is a terrific book for anyone to read.  The book discusses common negotiating mistakes and details ways of avoiding them.  You don’t have to be globally active to benefit greatly from Acuff’s observations.  However, if you do conduct business on a global scale (or if you’re just interested in learning about foreign customs) this is really a dynamite read.  Learn all kinds of fascinating (even peculiar) customs from nations around the world!

 

Leading with Kindness:  Good People Consistently Get Superior Results (AMACON, $24.95) by Baker and O’Malley.

The basic theory here is that there are six basic ingredients of kindness – compassion, integrity, gratitude, authenticity, humility, and honor – and that each is essential to the role of leader.  Well…there are many people who would disagree, describing this as somewhat PollyAnna-ish, when viewed against an often cutthroat business world. But  before taking such as jaded viewpoint, do look this book over. You could change your mind.  This is truly a must-read for anyone in a managerial position

 

The Levity Effect:  Why it Pays to Lighten Up  (Wiley, $22.95)  by Gostick and Christopher.

Fun in the workplace?  This very idea could make a business owner cringe.  But groundbreaking research on over 1 million employees indicates that fun and humor go a long way toward building a successful and highly productive workplace.  The authors say their book is aimed at getting “seriousaholics to be more creative.”    

 

  • TO START LIGHTENING UP RIGHT AWAY:    Think about “fun” bookmarks to keep your place while you’re reading … they’ll keep you in a playful mood.  Choose from many different, handsome metal bookmarks featuring sports designs to fit almost everyone’s interests,  including  baseball, tennis, softball, soccer, football, and more. It’s worth taking a break just to use these playful pieces!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, December 18th, 2008

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FACED WITH REDUCED BUSINESS and a bleak financial outlook nationally, most retailers are straining to find new ways of bringing in customers and making sales. That is to say, all but a few like Wal-Mart, who seem to thrive in tough times. 

 

“This is the kind of environment that Walton built this company for,” declared President and CEO H. Lee Scott. While his statement might grate on the majority (Scott claims he doesn’t want to gloat) it’s worth paying attention to, mainly to find out how Wal-Mart is doing it.

 

Some basics apparently apply.  Wal-Mart brags that it has a highly disciplined management team, a conservative balance sheet, more stable financial well being, and     strong inventory management.  But, mainly, Scott insists that the company has “the best prices in the marketplace.”

 

  • Buying wholesale clearance items can help you play this game effectively.  The less you pay, the lower you can price and still turn a profit.

 

DESPITE THE BROUHAHA, Wal-Mart is restructuring its business priorities to deal with the financial crisis.  Among other things, the company is scaling back building new mega-stores, investing more in existing outlets. Private brand portfolios are being expanded and new brands that offer higher value are being sought out. 

 

  • Presenting your store as a “brand” itself is another effective promotional tool.  Retailers in general suggest having your name imprinted on bags and tags put on sales items.  This is a critical time to build your store name and connect it to a value concept.

 

Wal-Mart has also extended its Christmas store hours dramatically.  Get up and out by 5 A.M. and you’ll catch some hot Wal-Mart offerings. Other Wal-Mart ideas for selling include creation of a Hot Spot fast-turn merchandising area, where the firm celebrates a holiday like Christmas or the launching of a new brand. Another:  a junior’s Gifts-To-Go section, debuting in January.

 

Wal-Mart has also decreased its SKUs in order to focus on and make a clear statement about fewer special items.  “We’re also committed to investing in growth categories, like denim,” an executive noted.

 

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WHILE J.C. PENNEY CO. IS EXPERIENCING difficult times – third quarter profits fell a whopping 52.5 percent – its management maintains a positive outlook with emphasis on value, affordable products, and greater shopping convenience.   For Christmas, President Ken Hicks believes customers will be spending on more practical gifts, and less on novelty.  Like Wal-Mart, Penney is putting major importance on private brands, on lifting the level of style and on offering better value.  

 

  • According to the National Retail Federation, while fewer dollars may be spent on large, expensive items this Christmas, sales will still be made in gifts such as DVDs and CDs, toys and jewelry.

 

Pulling together a collection of products they think will sell well, Penney has created a new Red Box display assortment of 60 items priced from $19 to $100. The Red Box contains edgy gift items (talking robots, and Einstein telescopes) and is centrally located in each store for fast selling action.  The Red Box areas will stay up until a few weeks after Christmas.

 

  • Creating your own version of a Red Box area can increase sales.  For Christmas, choose items that are moderately priced, and that will make good gift purchases. Gift wrapping the items is a big sales plus!

Think about what is attractive, affordable, and useful for your “red box”.  Scarf, hat, and glove sets fit the picture with cold weather of the Christmas season. 

 

Penney is also adding more Associates to help customers learn about products.  And, it is expanding its e-mailing operations. Its marketing budget is likewise being restructured, with fewer dollars going to network and catalog ads, and more to local TV, mobile and direct mail.  The firm also runs ads in local theaters where family films are shown. 

 

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MOST RETAILERS SAY they are watching their inventories closely and while they may be buying less in general; they are still buying “interesting items.” Even normally high- priced stores admit they are scaling back on luxury and buying popular priced products.  As one retailer put it, many consumers are beginning to question designer fashion.  They find a $6,000 handbag gauche.”

 

  • Retailers are also looking for merchandise that visually communicates value, and looks like it will last a considerable length of time.  They are also looking for products that have more than just one season of selling value. Seasonless is the new fashion retailing mantra. 

Need some ideas?  Gemstone fashion jewelry has the look of intrinsic value and will certainly sell through next spring.  Rhinestone jewelry is a wonderful gift that is immediately useful for New Year’s Eve, but rhinestone will see its peak season for bridal, pageant, and prom following Christmas. 

 

Retailers in general say it is essential during tough times to have a deep understanding of who your customer is; otherwise, you won’t be able to buy with accuracy. Knowing what your customers want is key.

 

  • Customers are also willing to spend on extraordinary pieces, things that make a statement.  Lily Hamrah, owner of a designer boutique in New Jersey, has hit on a dynamite idea for selling during this bleak period.  She has instituted a private charge card (that can only be used at her store) with a rewards program.  Customers receive $20 for every $1,000 spent, and the response has been phenomenal. “It’s a private card,” Hamrah says, “so husbands don’t see it.”

 

Valerie Feigen, co-owner of a New York boutique, says customers are putting more thought into their purchases.  They want quality and value for their dollars.  More care and less impromptu buying is also going into jewelry purchases.

 

  • Rather than buying generally attractive pieces, customers look for a special single item to go with a particular piece of clothing. 

 

Customer service is high on the sales-building agendas. One retailer is sending items to customers’ homes for approval. Free delivery is also big. Another retailer emphasizes multiple-use items, and is teaching customers how to wear apparel and jewelry in several different ways. “People have just so much money to spend, and this extends the value of their buying dollars.”  

 

Customers are also more willing to spend money with retailers they feel they can trust.  “You have to be scrupulously honest,” one retailer said. “If an item isn’t right for the customer, say so.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, November 28th, 2008

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TARGET IS FOCUSING on a new set of retailing initiatives to get through the present tough financial situation and make them well positioned to regain a hefty share of the market when the economy gets better. The plan is multi-faceted, but relies heavily on the firm’s “Expect More, Pay less” mantra that, according to Kathryn A. Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising, “has guided us through boom times and bad times.”

 

So far, Target has proven itself a master retailer, and there is no reason to doubt the new plan will do just what the doctor ordered to guide the mega store chain through the present rough waters.

                — Merchandisers at practically every level of the business have something to learn here.

 

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Tesija says that “in this economic climate, we are emphasizing the ‘Pay Less’ part of the company strategy.” One requisite: To make sure prices match those of their main competitor, Wal-Mart.  The company has also revised its weekly in-store advertising circular, using fewer products and larger images, all focused on lower prices. 

 

PROMOTIONAL TECHNIQUES have been revised.  For example, the number of endcaps that feature merchandise at lower prices has been significantly increased to show off the value items.

 

  • The way you buy can make a major difference in your promotional items.  Consider closeouts such as classic double row faux pearls spaced with fine link chain.  These exquisite, grey-toned pearls, which can be extended to 18 inches and will never go out of style, offer an ideal value-oriented merchandising opportunity.

 

Of course, price is not the total story.  Michael B. Francis, executive vice president of marketing, says that while customers are focused on price, he feels it is just as important to have an environment where people want to shop and where they can expect to get more at those lower prices. This not only maintains business, but helps build market share.

 

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WITH PRICE IN THE FOREFRONT of consumer consciousness, advertising has been revamped to communicate the value message. “We are being more explicit in terms of ‘Pay Less,'” Francis says. Now, three-fourths of the firm’s expenditures will be devoted to that position.  “And every vehicle we create will contain a bolder statement about Target’s value,” Francis admits.

 

The fall-off of sales at posh retailing emporiums is also affecting the way Target does business.  The firm is frankly running to pick up those disenchanted customers, telling them, “We have the same merchandise you’d find at Macy’s or Barney’s, New York.”  Except, of course, at lower prices. 

 

  • To attract the upscale customer, try creating a new category of better merchandise which you can offer at value prices.  For example, former customers of high-end stores will surely be attracted to classic style wholesale jewelry, especially with real gemstones. Consider a handsome tiger’s eye necklace of polished chips featuring a domed oval pendant framed in silver-plated flat wire, all adjustable to a fashionable 20″. Very sophisticated!  

 

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NEWNESS IS WHAT IS SELLING in Target stores now.  And, according to Francis, “Punctuating our stores with up and coming designers is effective.” One way of doing that is by featuring designers in print and circular advertising which underscores the designers’ own voices.  The same can be done with popular brands that have a value reputation.

 

An important merchandising concept for 2009 is the company’s “rebalancing theme.”  It involves finding new ways to drive traffic and emphasize value. 

               –“We’re still out there taking creative risks and taking opportunities.”

 

A recent campaign based on the traffic-driving strategy involved showing off essential items against a Dolly Parton vocal in the background.  A big name that communicates positive messages both directly and indirectly!  

 

  • You can do the same simply by playing music that conveys a positive message or feeling in your store. 

 

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TARGET IS ALSO INTEGRATING new product into its merchandising mix, with the idea of attracting customers it might not otherwise get. A major example is a grocery concept, now in its testing stage. Greg W. Steinhaffel, president and CEO, believes that  food customers make more store stops and spend four times more than non-food customers.  By adding food to the store’s merchandising mix, Target hopes to corral a bevy of new frequent buyers into the store.

 

  • Just adding a new and exciting product category to your store can effect the same positive business results.  For example, you might expand your business into high-profile caps, which are perennially popular best-sellers.  Modified military caps look great on men and women alike, and come in white, black and khaki. These great looking caps sell to all age categories.  Other terrific choices include “Level Headed” ball caps, and 3-D embroidered American Eagle ball caps.  Put in some of these items and just watch the action!   

 

ELECTRONIC WIZARDRY is also in Target’s going-forward strategy.  Its goal is to put the entire store online and to integrate mobile commerce into its retail plan. To drive traffic to the company’s website now, an on-line free shipping offer has been increased from 25- to 50,000 items. 

 

We can’t say enough about the importance of computer merchandising.  If you‘re not really computer literate, change your ways now.  This is the future and, like Target, you want to be in on it!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008