One of my favorite parts of my business is market. If you love clothes like I do and have an eye for fashion, market is like being a kid in a candy store. Booth after booth line isles in huge convention centers filled with every type of clothing you can imagine.
I thought my readers might like a closer look at what a day at market is like for me.
A market day starts early with a good breakfast around 8 am and then a taxi or shuttle ride to one of the many markets in Las Vegas. We buyers call markets “shows” so there is the Off Price Apparel Show, the Women’s Wear In Nevada Show, the Magic Show as well as Stitch, Project, Platform and others. Whew, I’m out of breath just reading all of those back to myself. And it’s like that at market, we work at a frenzied pace trying to go to as many shows as possible in the span of five days.
Once we have arrived, we stop at registration to get our buyer’s badges and then wait for the doors to open at 9 am. Security guards check everyone’s badge, scanning each one. Once inside the convention hall, it’s a quick check of the schedule and off we go. Because my mom and I are buying for three stores (two brick and mortar and one online), we often split up so we can maximize our time.
I head to my first vendor and begin looking through the samples. Different buyers have different preferences for this part. I like to look through all the samples before I sit down. Some buyers have the manufacturer rep show them the line by hanging each item on a grid. I feel this takes too long and since I am always pressed for time, I can speed things up by looking myself. I know what I want, so usually I will pick the items I am interested in and begin there. This is when it is really helpful to have a relationship with my manufacturer representative. If he or she knows me and my store, then the buying process can happen much quicker because my rep can edit the line for me by only showing me what will work for me.
If my mom and I are buying a line together, we both pull items that we like and then go through them together. Sometimes I will really like something that my mom doesn’t and vice versa. If one of us feels strongly about an item, we evaluate it together. The things we consider are sizing, fit, sleeve lengths, color, fabric, target age and ease of wear. If the item has several negatives, we usually reject it. So for example, I really like the print and the style of a top, but my mom notices that it seems to run small and has cheap feeling fabric with sleeves that not everyone will like. Given the negatives, the top would probably get rejected. This process helps us avoid making bad buys.
After all the appointments have been met, we always try to allow time to browse the show. This is a time consuming process of simply walking the isles and looking at displays for something that catches our eye. Usually, we are looking for something specific like jean friendly tops, for example. This keeps us on track so we don’t end up buying something we already have. When we see something interesting, we stop and checks line sheets or ask prices. If the line seems like a good choice, we either sit down at the booth or make an appointment to come back.
At the end of the day, we add up units to make sure we are staying on target with our buying plan. We use detailed sales reports to help us set buying targets or each vendor. We always allow some “open to buy” for the new vendors that we find. If we over spend on one vendor because we really liked the line that season, we cut back on another. It is a delicate balancing act that takes constant vigilance to avoid being over-inventoried.
After a relaxing dinner, we head back to the hotel to write orders before its time to fall asleep so we can get up bright and early the next day to repeat the whole process over again. And that’s a day in the life at market.