Well that was a whirlwind trip! I absolutely love going to market – one of my favorite parts of my job – but WOW – I always feel like I got run over by a truck when I get back. And let’s not mention the 5 lbs I usually gain from eating chocolate continuously for a week just to keep my energy up… I am seriously in food detox, but I want to eat my arm off right now. Entry back into the real world is always painful:/
This is what my store manager, Susan, and I looked like on Day 1 – it seems like an eternity ago – not just a week. We look so fresh and ready to buy, don’t we?! You should see us both at work today – ha!
Everyone always wonders what it is like to go to market. Fun, of course. But also stressful and lots of long hours. Just ask Susan – I didn’t feed her dinner – TWICE – during the January market because we were writing orders so late. I took it easier on her this time though – we even got to have dinner with my husband and little girl one night who were in town visiting my inlaws – so fun!
People ask me a lot of questions about buying at market – the tops ones are: What does market look like? How do you buy? How do you know what to buy?
I thought I would answer these for you today!
What does market look like? Here is a pic inside one of the buildings of Americasmart. And this one is the smallest! There are 2 other buildings that are 18 stories high and a full city block each. I go to market for 6 days and still can’t see everything! The advice I got from a seasoned buyer on my very first trip to market in 2002 was this, “Look in every nook and cranny – that’s where you can find some hidden gems.” And I try really hard to do that – every market!
How do you buy? Because market is so big, I adopted the policy early on that if I see a line I like I will buy it. I know a lot of people get pamphlets or take notes and come back to their favorites at the end of the show or they buy when they get home, but that just doesn’t work for me. I figure if I can’t pull the trigger while I’m standing there, I don’t love it and I need to move on. I purchase items for the 6 months following that particular market and work off an Open To Buy budget plan that I create based on sales numbers from the previous year. There is a lot of work and planning that goes in way before I step on a plane! I really don’t know how business owners buy if they don’t have a point of sale system with reporting. I guess that is the engineer in me – but I love numbers – they don’t lie and they are very helpful in making decisions!
How do you know what to buy? This is a tricky one. I just do. That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes before. I’ve gotten a couple lines in over the years that I LOVED, but apparently no one else felt the same way and almost all of it went on sale. Which is a bummer. A BIG bummer. But knowing when to say when and actually putting the items on sale is a characteristic of a good retailer. Cry Uncle, give yourself a pat on the back (you tried) and get out your red pen! You certainly don’t want to hang on to stale merchandise. The key is to have more buying successes than failures, and the key to that is to listen to your customers! Our customers have been asking for House of Harlow necklaces for the last 6 months, so I purchased the line this time! So if you want one – please come to Swagger!:)
I’m glad to be back in North Carolina, but I’ve got to enter in all my orders and follow up on the 900 emails I received while I was gone! I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any other questions for me comment below and I will try my best to answer them!