Lessons Learned from 30 Years in Retail
One buyer spills her trade secrets—everything from how to shop market to what to buy.
After more than 30 years in retail, Lori Jermont, Co-Owner of Gardenviews knows a thing or two about buying product for a retail store. “We want our customers to walk in and say ‘ohhh!’” said Lori. “When they do, we know we’re doing it right!” From preparing for market to shopping the shows to setting the store, Lori, and fellow Gardenviews Co-Owner Lou Mascolo, are a team with a plan, doing a whole lot right.
And they are sharing their plan with you–starting with the hats they wear at work!
Division of Labor
When you have a partner in business, be clear about who does what. Lori comes from a background in floral design and has a great eye for product. She is responsible for the layout and “look” of the shop. Lou, on the other hand, was executive VP of Winkleman’s clothing before owning this shop and is the “numbers man” managing business details like budgets and inventory.
Preparing for the show
Knowing where you will shop is just as important as knowing what you will buy. When the market book comes, Lori says that her and Lou “tear it up” and organize it by floor to map out their shopping by day. “We often spend six days at market—and we work it!” Lori explained. She also makes appointments in advance with key vendors—those they expect to spend more than 1 hour with.
At the show
Whenever possible walk the entire showroom or booth, looking for product and display ideas. Lori explains “We call it ‘cherry picking’–finding that perfect product for our store in the back of a showroom when we hadn’t expected to find anything at all.”
Keep track of what you buy, to create a collection of related product. “One way we setup our store is through color impact. When we go to market, I try and keep in mind what we ordered at the last showroom so that we can create a color story, a look for the store,” Lori explains.
Setting up the store
Being a successful buyer doesn’t end when product gets in the store. Display and customization are the finishing touches for your product. To that end, when Lori buys product she looks at the details thinking about how it will display. For instance she looks to see if wreaths have a floral ring on them so she can “hang them immediately when I unpack, and save time”. Additionally, Lori likes to remove all manufacturers’ packaging, and place items on display in a vignette setting, to show customers what they could look like in their home.
The Last Word
Going against that advice you’ve heard time and again—to buy what your customers want—Lori has a last word. “We buy what WE love. That gives our store a consistent point of view. If we don’t personally like it, we can’t sell it, because our passion isn’t there.”
What are your tired and true buying tips? Do you have a “best” way to shop market or organize your store? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!