Lessons Learned in 2003, part 2

I learned that some people are way too sensitive and just aren’t cut out for this business

Off Price isn’t easy. Even some of the best jobbers can be curt when you try and deal with them. But people expect to get Nordstrom treatment in this industry. Really. And they get all tizzy when you don’t bow down and kiss their feet. Really. Some people need to just get a thicker skin. Mostly it’s women that get all offended and sensitive. People read my site and email me asking how I can be so rude. No dear, I’m to the point. And I’m about as open as you are going to get, you know.

I remember years ago when I was first speaking with an old timer in the business. He was short and to the point. You know, sometimes you want people to nod in agreement and pat you on the back, tell you all your ideas are fabulous and you’re going to be a big success. Well, that’s what family is for. But when you ask real people real questions, expect to get real feedback.

Anyway back to this guy, he told me like it was. And it took me a day or two to recover, to get over what he had said. And I just had to suck it up because the guy had been in business for decades, and if my ideas were whack, he was going to tell me. If I was looking for agreement, I had other places to go to get that, but I was looking for honesty.

I’ll give you honesty, if you ask, if you can’t handle the truth, don’t ask.

I’m learning more and more that deals are everywhere.

People constantly amaze me with where they get merchandise. I don’t tell everything I know because some people relay a source in confidence. As a result, there are companies I know about that are not in the guide. Every company in there is there by a vote of confidence from a buyer or some buyers. So sometimes, when there is a company and I get feedback that they are cool, I put them in. But if someone comes and tells me about some obscure source that is now their best kept secret, well I won’t go and tell that secret, you know. I respect what people have to do to stay in business.

People don’t understand that deals are all around you. But you have to get involved in the business, you have to make connections, and you have to get off the internet sometimes (most of the time).

I learned that you have to respect the limitations of the marketplace
There is a finite amount of merchandise to go around. When you are a normal regular retail buyer, and you need 200 pieces of something, you pretty much get it. They take orders, the make a little more than what was ordered and they deliver.

When you are off price, you are basically trying to get a piece of a finite amount of merchandise. No one manufactures an unlimited quantity of merchandise for the of price market.

The reason this comes into play is that someone will email me or a vendor saying, “I want 200 pieces of Betsey Johnson.” And it’s like, okay because, you know, I just happen to have 200 pieces sitting here that just got overlooked by all my other customers. One jobber said to me, “I’m lucky to come up with 20.” Limited quantities. Limited quantities and it also sells so fast that you’d have to have that relationship with that jobber, make your needs known BEFORE the merchandise arrived.

Some jobbers sell out of something so fast it’s amazing. Hey, if they still have it after a few months it probably wasn’t that good to begin with (or is overpriced).