Buying for the Shop in Dallas!
In mid June, Resa and I went to Dallas Market. The markets or "going to market", as what they are called in the trade, are basically a series of buildings containing large showrooms where buyers go to find product for their stores, catalogs, etc. In addition to the showrooms, they have what they call 'temporaries', which are basically booths (some very elaborate) of new emerging brands, smaller companies or companies who just choose not to have their own showroom or be represented by a rep agency. A rep agency is a company with 'road reps' who sell and represent numerous companies.
Our trip to Dallas Market was our fifth buying trip (Resa's fourth) in 2018 and definitely not our last for the year! Since the shop sells across multiple categories (jewelry, clothing, furniture, gifts, lighting, home decor, etc.); it's a lot of ground to cover!
Resa on our early morning flight
As usual, our trip started out with a 5:30AM flight to Dallas, connecting through NY. I had to book a connecting flight due to the price. I always book the first flight out to maximize the time spent at market. And I also book the LAST flight out coming home in order to spend as much time at market as possible. Attending market tends to be very expensive with hotel rates as high as $450 a night before tax so maximizing my time is a high priority. A 5:30AM flight means leaving my house no later than 4AM. This is just the beginning to four very long working days! Four full days of walking, looking, buying, planning with very little down time. Some showrooms are open until 8PM so that means 10 to 11 hour days sometimes, not including the first (arrival) and last day (departure) which add on several hours for travel time. Four full days at market and still will not have seen everything! Four days at market seems to be my sweet spot as anymore days than that and I am just plain worn out both physically and mentally! Every night after I leave market, I return back to my hotel room and go through catalogs, review orders and jot down showrooms I have to return to modify ship dates so that the items I have ordered from different companies that fit within a vignette or collection I have in mind, ship around the same time. I also have to space out orders so that the shop is continually receiving new product several times a week.
And then there is Christmas decor to buy which usually is done in January but it is so difficult for me to buy Christmas in January, coming right off of Christmas! The very last thing I want to see and order is Christmas in January! But, as a buyer -- if you don't order Christmas in January, a lot of it is unavailable (sold out) to order during the summer markets. So I buy half of Christmas in January and the other half during the summer markets to maintain my sanity. During Dallas market, we luckily found three new vendors in which to order Christmas decor and I am so excited for all of it to arrive! I felt like we hit the Christmas Jackpot on this trip!
When I am at market and going in to the showrooms, I am usually pretty swift. I have to pass by a lot of items that won't work, in order to get to the ones that will. When buying for the shop (again, across multiple categories), I keep the following in mind:
- Is it unique?
- Is it a new line or new product?
- Is it a good fit for the shop?
- Will our customers love it?
- Can we build a collection or vignette to 'tell a story'?
- Is the quality good?
- Will the retail price point be good so it offers value to our customers?
- Is any retail store around us carrying it already?
- Where is it made?
That is a lot of criteria to keep in mind when buying for the shop! And all the brands/lines that the showrooms tell you are the "top sellers" -- I keep walking because if they are "top sellers" it most always means they are available anywhere and everywhere! Not to say every item in our shop is exclusive to our shop, it just means we don't sell brands or lines that can be commonly found in Richmond.
We arrive in Dallas about 9AM central time and immediately go directly from the DFW airport to the Dallas Market Center with luggage in tow and pay to have it stored. We visit showroom after showroom after showroom! At the end of the day (the first day being the shortest on this trip); we arrive at our hotel via shuttle about 6PM and check in. They tell us at the front desk that while in Dallas we must have a night out on the town as we were pretty close to 'downtown'. I laugh because I've been up since 1:30AM and am beat! In fact, when I go to market, it is ALL business (NYC might be the exception) because I have a job to do and am on a mission (see photo below) and little energy and definitely no time for anything else. We end up eating where else but the hotel restaurant because neither of us have any energy to even walk across the street to a 'real' restaurant.
Our goal in Dallas! Note photo was taken after some Bellinis!
During our trip to Dallas market, we shop for clothing for the store -- fall and winter to be specific. We visit a showroom that represents a brand I am familiar with so we see the samples and jot down the items we will order through our local rep when we get home. We visit many other showrooms of other clothing brands that don't meet our criteria or their opening order requirement is so large, we aren't ready to make the commitment. Then we finally visit a showroom that represents a brand from Italy we have sold in the shop before. Resa and I go through EVERY single clothing sample on the racks and then select the ones Resa will try on for fit. After Resa tries them on, we weed out the ones that we don't want, pretty much agreeing on most everything. Having two sets of eyes really helps in the buying process! Then we are left with a lot of items we DO want to purchase for the shop but then need to be further divided in to collections based on type of clothing, color and ship date. These collections from this company will then be coordinated by ship date with the other apparel company we have chosen to place an order when we get home. I then leave Resa to sort through this while I continue on my own in search of more inventory for the shop.
Resa trying on a crown (no we did not buy for the shop)
During our time at market, when separated; Resa and I are texting each other "where are you?" or "I just found a showroom with complimentary Bellinis!!!!!" We meet up and have some Bellinis which when you are exhausted AND buying is not always a good combination! I know from experience in the past, a lot of my poor buying decisions have been the result of unlimited drinks offered in showrooms which many showrooms have! A few drinks lead to bad behavior on our part and we go in to showrooms and look at items we have no business looking at for the shop but we have fun and take photos, some maybe not too appropriate to post on social media but we do anyways. Blame in on the Bellinis!
Resa channeling her inner Iris Apfel (and yes we did buy some cool new readers)
Our last day at Dallas market, we stay until 6PM then take a taxi back to the DFW airport and have a relaxing dinner, giving ourselves plenty of time to catch our flight back (this time direct) to Richmond. We arrive at the Richmond airport after midnight, I get home and in bed at 2AM and am in the shop at 9:30AM the next day. I give Resa the day off because I'm nice (LOL) and use to it.
So going to market is very exhausting but I love it! I love my job, I love the shop, I love our customers and I even love Resa! I love coming back thinking about all the new items that will be coming in to the shop, all the great displays that inspired me and even think about the next market!
We leave for the NY market on Saturday after the shop closes. Jodie will be holding down the fort at the shop while we are gone. This show will be all temporaries and no showrooms but this show called NY NOW really has some unique items and emerging new brands! We will be taking the train on this trip with two other friends in tow and will actually do some fun stuff during this trip such as visiting the traveling Downtown Abbey Exhibit and hopefully visiting the famous Chelsea Market! I also plan to spend our last day going to the Garment/Wholesale District and looking for what else....more items for the shop. Hope you'll follow us on social media during our trip (August 11-14) and return to our website to read our blog highlighting our trip to THE BIG APPLE!