In Blog 79 I talked about how to follow the golden rule In this blog I wanted to talk about how I went about maximizing the hot Items.
I think part of being a good buyer is awareness. People say “you have to have a good eye” to be successful”. Bullshit…While it may be important to have an eye for fashion, you need to also have a good “ear” to listen to what is going on. You need to be aware of trends that are hot and react. You also have to trust your gut.
To this point, I was walking in the Arden Fair Mall taking a break and I kept noticing all these young girls wearing Converse All-Stars. We never carried them in the Brass Plum departments, they were carried in the Men’s department. I sat with that thought for a few days.
My morning routine was to get to work, set the floor and do a stock walk in the back. Check for any e-mails. After the store opened I would go out to the front where our Coffee bar was and get my double latte. Ronnie was our coffee guy at the time and he was amazing. Super friendly and was great to talk to in the morning to get your day started.
“Ronnie, have you been noticing a lot of girls wearing Converse All-Stars lately?”. He agreed and said he’s been seeing it more lately and a store in the mall had a full window display of them. I went down to the store and it was a “juniors” type store. Hmmm, I need to call Converse.
I called Converse and the rep told me they come in “uni-sex” sizing meaning both men’s and women’s sizes are on the shoe. They are made on a Men’s last so the fit is more full than a typical women’s size would be. A men’s medium is a “D” width and a woman’s medium is a “B” width. The conversion Is about 1 ½ sizes different.
“So I can buy them for my department then”, was my clarifying question. “Yes”. So I bought a table of different colors and put them right up front. The response was amazing! They were definitely the hot item of the department.
At this same time, we had a few other trends that were going on. Grunge was a thing and the Dr. Marten boot and shoe styles were also the rage. They weren’t cheap, which our salespeople liked, so I looked at our monthly sales and the average inventory we stocked and figured out how much inventory I needed to not miss any sales. I told Aaron to make a few extra sections in the back for Doc Martens. We had a table of Doc Martens up front too with a few funky colors to spice up the table.
Another trend was western booties. I decided to own this business. We already had a pretty good business with Guess and Zodiac on the tall shafted boots so I called the reps for each brand and told them I wanted a monthly flow of the booties year round so I wouldn’t miss any sales.
Guess was one price point and Zodiac was another. We also had a few styles from our NOL label (Nordstrom Own Label). It made for a nice display of this important trend too. I learned a valuable lesson here too.
There was a trend of woven shoes and the western trend too. Our NOL team came up with a woven bootie. We got it in and we sold thru 100 pairs of a 108 pair order in the first month. I decided to jump on this style and wrote 108 pair back-ups for three months.
The woven bootie trend died, but the western trend still lived on. For the next three months we got in these 108 pair backups and the team thought I had lost it. Why do you keep re-ordering these? Well when you buy a private label style you own it, because it’s made for you.
There was also a “buzz” about this new brand that covered the grunge look with some great heeled Mary Jane type shoes called Steve Madden. I decided to jump on this new brand because a lot of people were talking about it.
To summarize, part of being a good buyer is identifying trends and styles in the market place. The other piece to it is how do I maximize the hot items once I have called them out. Some of the process involves history of the brand and styles, while the other is your gut feeling. It’s the fun part of the job especially when you are right.
“Don’t be afraid to go with your gut. It’s there for a reason, and it’s usually right.” Anonymous
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…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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