Monday, January 12, 2009

To Market To Market

Have you ever wondered what it's like to go to the retail trade shows? Every year I anticipate them with great excitement. What was hot last year, what are the trends this year and what will I buy that will set me apart from all the other retailers that you have to choose from?
This year is a bit different. While last July was our best ever, we just tanked with the rest of the world in this new economy.
My buying has to be different this year. What can I find that will have a good price point, yet still set me apart in my own displays? Should I cut way back? Probably. Do I want to? Nope.
I am going to Chicago this weekend to visit with Andi from Neesh. Those of you that know the line know that it is about the best clothing line around. It is perfect for work and play, as each piece has great style and just enough tweaking to make it flirty and fun without going over the top. Neesh never dissappoints.
I am also checking out the new Pine Cone Hill. As always the line is limitless, but I did notice that the neutrals, matelasse's and the Willow Wear were the top runners. Interesting to me was that nary a quilt was sold last season.

I will tell you a huge concern about Chicago. The showrooms are closing left and right! Truth is if it weren't for these two lines I would skip Chicago all together. Merchandise Mart... what are you doing?

My favorite show, hand's down is Dallas. Yes, I grew up there and love to see it again, but frankly Dallas has it going on. Last year I decided to go in March when the apparell show is in conjunction with the home and gift show.

I had a ball last year! Little did I know that this apparell show rivals New York and LA. It was mind boggling to say the least. I was by myself and the showrooms were floors of mazes. I walked past several showrooms that had models in couture ballgowns with the big whigs sitting at tables making notes and comments. I expected Tim Gunn to out me at any moment.

To tell you the truth, I was quite intimidated at the whole thing!

Then oddly enough, a beautiful woman in a very gracious starched white blowse and palattzo pants came out of her showroom looking me straight in the eye. She said to me "I see you are from Door County... do you know Debbie and Theresa?" Well anyone who shops the county knows those two from the Magic Jacket. They also both happen to be very good friends of mine.

She just wanted to chat and see how they were doing, and after warming up to her I mentioned that I was like a fish out of water at this show. With a wave of her hand and a harrumph, she said "never worry, you are to be catered to. You are a customer here and will be treated as so! Now go and shop!" So I did!

This is when I happened upon the Heart's Desire line that just flew out of the shop all summer. Linens of all weights and colors that fits us all if you get my drift. I get so tired of big clothes that just make you look bigger trying to hide big! This line is so feminine and has a nostalgic feel, but is very up to date.

I also found great jewelry to boot.

The best part about this show was that the gift show, which is huge, was going on at the same time, but very few people were there for that part of it.

So flying high from the success of the apparel show, I entered the much less crowded hall of the Trade Center with reps in showrooms happy to see me and no waiting to place orders.

I used to really "doll" up for these shows, you know, wanting to impress and all. But after 13 years of markets, it's all about comfort and hand's free. While I haven't donned "mom" jeans and sneakers just yet, I have learned the value of comfortable shoes and good backpacks.

One last thing. I know you must think of all the fun it must be looking at all the beautiful items, but just imagine that 90% of what I see I wouldn't touch. It can become very tiresome and downright depressing sometimes rummaging through the muck with people wanting to sell to me. But as all you shoppers know, it just takes one item to get me back into the "zone" and it's all on again!

I'll have pictures to post next week of my time in Chicago.



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