The theme of this month’s newsletter is Going to Market. I’ve gathered advice from industry leaders; designers, seasoned buyers, and even the director of the National Bridal Market in Chicago. Whether this is your first time or twentieth time shopping at bridal market, I hope you’ll find some helpful tips and hints!
Also, please tag us (@greatlakeswgs) in your market pics on Instagram - I love seeing your posts and shopping with you!
Advice from a Creative Director
Market is an exciting time for designers to show new collections and to meet with buyers to decide what new trends and styles will work for them. It's not only important for designers to listen to what store owners have to say about what they are missing in their store, but it's also important for store owners to listen to designers input about what samples have been top sellers and where they think trends are headed. One thing I want buyers to know is, we are not just a "vendor" to them, but instead we are business partners with them. We work for each other so that we both benefit in the relationship. In order for them to make money our samples have to sell through and in order for designers to make money, they have to sell them. If there are concerns on either end, reach out and have a discussion on how we, collectively, can do better. This is a relationship to support and better each other's businesses.
Robert Bullock, Creative Director for Augusta Jones & Designer/Director of Robert Bullock Bride
Advice from a Market Director
1. Figure out who your CLIENT is and what they are willing to buy. Price point and sample size. POPULATION is changing and price is shifting.. contact your county for demographics moving in and out of your area. Great news - this information can all be found through the BBB and your local Chamber of Commerce.
2. Before going to any market—DO INVENTORY. Know what you have in the store. It is impossible to remember all the dresses you have so TAKE PICS of the top 10 sellers and also your bottom 10 gowns.
3. Look at your best-selling gowns—do you need similar styles and larger sizes for samples? (Note from Tami: we always bought the top 5 sellers from the previous year in a different size and color if available)
4. SET A BUDGET and stick to it!
5. Review the exhibitor listings that are attending the show and research before you come to set a plan on how you want to walk the floor. The floor plan will be posted. Make the most of your time management. Consider how long you sit through in booth fashion shows. Is it the best use of your time?
6. Seek out new designers to review. there are many “gems” just waiting to be found that sets your store apart for the crowd, but do your research on cost and minimums to buy.
7. Stick within your OTB for new product. You may LOVE The new styles…but will your client?
8. We put out a NEW designer LISTING pre-market to highlight the NEW talent .
9. Look for items to RENT to your brides. Long Capes, fur wraps, high end tiara’s jewelry, - those items they might not want to buy, BUT will ADD money to your bottom line over and over again.
10. If shopping for Prom or Social, consider taking someone in that demographic (a teen or a 50-something?) to provide a REAL perspective on style and interest in the new collections.
11. Think outside the box when it comes to sample sizes—Average size of most woman in the US is 14 and above, but your area may be different. Check the stats online. Choose samples that you can sell off the rack easily and replenish your inventory.
12. You have a captive audience of every family member who walks in your store. What can you sell them? Come to market prepared.
Biggest mistakes retailers make: NOT doing their inventory before they come , not doing research on companies before they buy, not checking out who has what in their 50 miles radius and not planning out their OTB and over spending on impulse purchase , because ”they “ like it.
Jane Heflin, Director of National Bridal Market
Advice from a veil designer…
One piece of advice - search out small private designers. And I am not just saying this to promote those like myself - but the big brands have their place, their products are available so many places, brides can find the same item in so many places and price shop. Smaller designers will offer more unique, special pieces that aren’t mass produced and available in every salon in the area. The best compliment I get from brides and stores shopping my products is “I’ve never seen a veil like that anywhere”
Miss Allaneous Veils & Accessories
Advice from seasoned buyers
Go with a plan..... map out all your regulars and see those first.... then eye catchers and newbies later. I write all orders and hold until I have looked at everything I want... then turn in. I don’t fall for pressure in the showroom. Budget budget budget.... stick to the budget. Always shop with clients in mind and I always grab a few ‘window’ dresses to just get a buzz on social media. Something wild totally out there.
Rhonda Prisock, Louisville, Mississippi
Set down the champagne. At least until you're done ordering!
Erin Fairfield, Grandville, Michigan
Before you go, look for holes in your inventory. Ask your sales staff if there are looks being requested that you don’t have. Maybe sizes?? When you get to market, look at your lines in order of profitability. See them all before placing orders. This helps in case a line is sub par, or ordering duplicate looks from different designers. Wear comfy shoes! And most important, don’t confuse your DayQuil with your Nyquil! Oh yeah, and Allure always had the best lunches!!!
One more thing, get off the market floor for a lunch. Stop somewhere close. Decompress, shake off the cobwebs, talk about what you’ve seen. Don’t be afraid to buy that “window” dress. It might not sell, but it will attract brides.
Stacey Thompson, Torrance, California
Bring your seamstress along to market at least every few years; you’ll get a different perspective on the gowns and especially on new designers you might be considering!
Tami Parks, Holland, Michigan