Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Week in the Life of a Gift Shop Owner - Day 1

Hi Everyone! It is market time again! Twice a year we pack up our most comfortable shoes and head down to Atlanta to see the newest stuff on the market! We love this part of our job (of course - we ARE professionals shoppers:)) but it is also VERY stressful! What should I get? How much of it should I buy? Will my customers like it?

Usually, I write about what lines I found, but I thought you might like more of a "behind the scenes" version this time!

Preparation for market starts a couple weeks before we arrive. I go through all the statistics in our Point of Sale System to see what categories are selling the best. Purses? Jewelry? Bath and Body? I think I can tell by gut feeling and visually looking at the merchandise (or lack there of because it soldout) in the store, but sometimes I am surprised by what the actual numbers tell me. It is so great to have a computer system to back up my gut feeling or kick me in the butt to tell me I am wrong and keep me from buying stuff that I love and that you guys don't!:)

Then I look at the HUGE market book to see all the new stuff that is coming out! I also buy In Style, Vogue, Oprah, etc to make sure I am up on all the newest trends!

Finally, I make appointments with the vendor representatives for our most important product lines, so we can work with the sales person who covers our area. I think it is always better to work with someone who knows you, your store, and the town you are located in, so they aren't pushing a bunch of stuff that is totally wrong! That just wastes my time and theirs - and with over 7.1 million square feet to cover - we certaintly don't have time for that!

A typical market day starts around 7 am for us (my mother Jill and I have been coming to market together for the last 5 years) when the alarm clock goes off! I know this doesn't sound like such an early time, but when you have been up till 11 or 12 o'clock review orders, answering emails, and writing blogs:) it comes very quickly! Also, being on your feet all day making important business decisions is tiring both physically and mentally. My husband thinks it is just a big shopping trip - which it is, I guess - but I'm NOT shopping for MYSELF so it is WAY more stressful!:) I have to make sure that all of you are going to like what I pick out!

First appointment is always at 9 am. Today we had appointments at 9 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 6 pm. Very long day! AND we were late for each appointment because we spent so much time buying stuff at our 9 am appointment!:) But it was WELL worth it and I think you guys are going to LOVE the new personalized stuff that we have coming in the next week or so - TOTALLY blew my mind and I think it will do the same for you! Very exciting stuff happening and I can't wait to share it all with you!

Next we went to dinner with the rep from VERA BRADLEY. I know, I know - I'm not the biggest fan of quilted fabric (which is surprising since I was raised in the south:)) but she had some very intersting things to show us. Now those of you who know me are probably going to be shocked that I am even entertaining the idea b/c of all the nasty things I have said about the bags in the past, but who knows - stranger things have happened - AND I do like some of the newer products. What do you guys think of Vera Bradley? Have you ever seen her stationery? Do you like it? Do you have any other favorite pieces? I can't guarantee you will be seeing it at Swagger anytime soon - but I would love to hear your opinion! You never know...... I like to keep you on your toes and I want to provide my customers with the products they love!

Finally got home around 9, finished checking my email, and writing this blog - it is now past 11!DAY 1 is complete and I am SOOOO tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm going to bed!
Peace out,

ps - I almost forgot - one of the coolest things that happened today was that Scout Bags by Bungalow (one of Swagger's and your favorite items - seriously we can't keep the stuff in!) asked us to give our opinion on the new patterns and styles for next year! We get to help with the product selection! They are asking some of their best customers for opinions - and we made the cut - yeah! We are VERY excited about it!!! You know I am always good for an opinion!:)


Lisa said...

I hear ya Mandy. Furniture Market is the same kind of thing. People are always saying "Oh I'd love to go to market!" Now that it is in Vegas, it is HUGE. You work from the minute you get up until you lay your head on the pillow at night. The worst is breakfast meetings. I really need coffee before people talk to me.

Lisa said...

I'm so proud of you for keeping up with your blogging, no matter how tired y'all are!

And YAY for Scout... that is SO exciting. Product development was BY FAR my favorite part of the undergrad textile program.

As far as Vera Bradley goes, I like it... but I'm VERY particular about the patterns. Most don't fly with me. But the products I like the best (in only a handful of patterns) are the flat/curling iron covers (they really do keep you from burning yourself or your stuff) and the duffel bags. Best. Luggage. Ever.

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