Total Accessories is about to put on a production for you – it’s SHOW TIME! From July 9-16, July Gift Market will be in full swing in our Building 3 Showroom on the 7th floor (right by the elevators). The first reason to stop by? Amazing NEW ITEMS from your favorite vendors that you will definitely need to order. And we have a special GUEST STAR coming up on Friday! Here are all the details:
There’s a new kid on the block at Total Accessories – Abbacino handbags and wallets, from Spain! Absolutely any store could use gorgeous leather and faux leather bags and wallets to entice a huge range of customers. Stop by to feel and smell the leather, and ogle the beautiful bags! Abbacino is bringing you “Trendy designs with Mediterranean flair.” Stock up NOW.
And now for the special guest spot… Mary Frances will be here, at Total Accessories, on Friday July 13th from 4-6pm! Grab a glass of wine and meet the face behind the infamous beaded handbags that adorn the front of our showroom. The new Fall Mary Frances bags are here, as well, so you can do your orders while you’re in to meet Mary! You won’t want to miss out on these showstoppers.
Fall Fashion is emerging at Market! Walking around the Atlanta Apparel show, we got a good idea of what’s hot for Fall.
Many of the sleeve details we have seen in the last few seasons will remain during the cooler weather. Off-the-shoulder tops are still relevant and can be seen in sweater form, using chunky knits or mohair fabrics.
In fact, sweaters are huge for fall, particularly with big turtleneck or V necklines. Think “Ugly Christmas Sweater,” if you want an idea of some of what this trend is about! This sweater trend is certainly not shying away from patterns. Many runway looks featured leopard print as a dominant print, even with sweaters. Stripes are huge, and we noticed a lot of sweaters and knits with rainbow color stripes.
Additionally, with tops, we are seeing buttons down the front and a tie on the bottom. This gives a 90’s feel that definitely emanates from the whole look of Fall 2018. Hoods are also back, attached to tunics, dresses, and even some of those funky-chunky sweaters.
As previously mentioned, stripes appear all over the place in Fall Fashion, including on pants. Many labels are doing a solid, patterned, or plaid pant, often cropped, with a stripe down the outside of the leg. The label’s logo will sometimes appear in this stripe, which plays into the “Logo-Mania” we are seeing a lot of this Spring through Fall. From Gucci and Fendi, to ready to wear fashion, the idea of splashing a logo on a shirt, down the side of pants, or wearing it like a name tag (Gucci) is a resuscitated 90’s heartbeat.
In addition to striped and plaid pants, denim is still huge in fashion for the upcoming season. Bell bottom jeans have made quite the comeback, and denim overalls are going from shorts to full length overalls for Fall. Structured skirts that look like office wear are being paired with funky tops, and suede and velvet are favored fabrics with skirts and pants. Knee high socks, like those worn by the lead in iconic 90’s movie Clueless, are also appearing on the radar.
As for color, most displays at Apparel Show contained deep reds, like burgundy or crimson, blush, bright, goldenrod yellows, and army green. Floral prints are all over dresses and one-piece jumpsuits. Fun prints, like animal prints or star patterns, are on trend.
Other specific on-trend items include Puffer jackets, jackets with fur collars, floral wrap dresses, Athliesure items worn as fashion looks, and boyish elements (like an army green coat) mixed with flowy, hippy dresses.
Market Season is here and it is time to visit our friends in Atlanta! I don’t know about you, but I cannot leave without making my checklist. Here is what mine looks like:
1. Create my top vendor list:
How? Run a sales report for the last 6 months and one for the last 12 months. List my top 15 vendors and look up their showroom numbers at the Mart. Sort the list by Building and Floor.
2. Create my schedule:
How? First I used my list of vendors, sorted by floor, and decided how much time I will need to spend in the different buildings. Then I decide which days I will be working in each area.
Now that my schedule is set, it is time to book my travel! I start by checking prices at https://www.americasmart.com/travel.
4. Book my appointments:
Now that I know which days I will be in certain areas of the Mart, I can call to schedule appointments. First I call my top 5 vendors. Then I call my favorite two reps (if not in the top 5 vendors). I then look through the rest of my vendor list and decide if I need an appointment with the rest. I find that 2 appointments a day is great; I can always fit in another two or three if needed.
5. Don’t forget meals!
Check my schedule to make sure I am near showrooms with good food. The Link Showrooms have free lunches every day. They also have breakfast and dinner with appointments. It’s worth a repeat trip for me!
6. Did I send my sales and inventory reports to my appointments?
As soon as I make an appointment I send sales and inventory information to the sales person (if I trust them). I tell them to have a suggested order ready for me when I show up and I give them a budget that I expect to spend. Different sales people handle this differently but it will always save me time, and it keeps the appointment focused and on track.
7. Download the Americasmart App! This is the best way to find my way around.
Wear Comfy Shoes! I can walk between 5 and 10 miles a day during market, and having shoes that can help stand up to that abuse is important.
A Big Bag! I tell myself every year that I am not going to collect paper and catalogs, but it always seems to happen.
This year, I am going to try and take pictures of displays and products that I like with the room/booth number as the next picture. I hope this helps me lower my paper collection as well as help me plan for the next day.
A Battery Pack. I bring at least one in case I need an extra charge for my phone.
My Notebook (obviously!)
Business cards. I never seem to bring enough cards so I am bringing 100 this time.
The best thing to do to prepare for Market is to start planning now! There is an excellent formula for buying success in the previously published blog, Utilizing Your Rep. Take a look at that, and follow along with these additional strategies:
As stated in “Utilizing Your Rep,” you will want to make appointments with trusted salespeople. The mark of an excellent sales rep is someone who is prepared for your appointment, and not simply shooting from the hip. They anticipate your questions, and the time frame you will need.
In terms of timing, making two appointments a day, and staging them three hours apart, makes for a successful market plan. Most appointments will last between an hour to an hour and a half. Three hours between appointments gives you plenty of time to run late within an appointment, and then to find your way to the new appointment. This way, if you see something you like along the way to your next meeting, you have the time built in to allow yourself to stop and purchase what you see. Two appointments per day still gives you time at the end of the day to place any last minute additions to your schedule.
It is easy to get distracted at Market, but you must prioritize your appointments! Meet with the most important sales people for your store. These important people should include reps for your two or three largest vendors, as well as what we can refer to as “stocking” agencies, which are agencies that carry multiple lines for your store.
Another excellent trick is to schedule your appointments around meals! The Mart can be a difficult place when it comes to grabbing a quick meal. The limited eateries within the building often have long lines during meal times, and can be a pricey option. You can schedule a breakfast and a lunch appointment, or even anticipate your meals by calling ahead to find out what your vendors are serving.
Invest your time wisely! You can easily save yourself nearly an entire day at the show if you do some work ahead of time to write restocking orders and come prepared. A sales rep could easily HFC (Hold for Confirmation) the order for you prior to Market, and meeting time can be used to simply review and confirm. Doing this restocking before you hit your deep discount sale season is best.
At the show, it’s important to look to your trusted vendors for items you need to fill holes in your store. Simultaneously, you can have your reps pull up the orders youHFC’d and confirm them. By reviewing these orders, you also have a chance to cancel off some of the reorders to replace them with new styles. Make sure you see to it that you take advantage of any show specials.
Stationery is coming at you from a handmade, fresh, young maker! These companies are springing up all over the place and the Link Leadership team noticed gorgeous new stationery lines at every turn while wandering the Temps at Market. Paper is popping!
These new paper companies tend to have a smaller offering that speaks directly to a specific market. Some cards are featuring trendy sayings and hashtags that certainly appeal to a younger demographic. Journals are also a huge staple of the gift market. After a long day typing on the computer or working on an iPad or phone, many people are reaching for pen and paper to do personal work. Take the bullet journaling trend; without the proper utensils, this trend would not have taken off the way it has!
Lifestyle brands like Vera Bradley, Slant, and our line Brownlow have successfully integrated stationary into their product lines. Right along with Home Accents and Kitchen wares, Brownlow features paper and pens prominently as inspirational items. Thomas Nelson carries many Bible Journals and inspirational journals that are excellent gifts for First Communions, birthdays, and more!
Let the bright colors of these popping paper products entice you. Add some paper products to your store for a nice punch of an awesome trend! Check out StationeryTrends.com for some unique paper lines.
OK – I have heard it for the last 25 years – Retail is about creating an experience. Then, in 2018’s Link Magazine article with Gifts and Dec’s Nancy Wolkow, she tells us it is the most important part of success in retail right now! But I’m are still confused about how to create an experience without spending millions of dollars on consultants and fancy buildings.
Almost 20 years ago, Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist, showed us how to apply observations about human nature and our customers to the shopping experience. Mr. Underhill explains how we can increase sales by altering mood and atmosphere. You have been watching shoppers for years, let’s use that knowledge to create more sales.
One of my favorite observations that he had in the book was that when shoppers do not have room for more products, they tend to stop shopping. In one store, he increased the shopping cart size by 20% and sales increased 15%. Where I was working, we didn’t have money for new shopping carts but we could train our floor staff. So we created a dedicated shelf area by the register and whenever we saw customers with product in their hand, we offered to bring it to the front for them. This little change cost nothing, upped the retail experience, and increased sales instantly.
“Why We Buy” is a quick read and helps put you on the path to becoming a retail experience guru!
If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get it today! If you read it 20 years ago like me, it is time to reread it. It is well worth the time investment!
Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping Paperback– June 2, 2000
Many buyers will come to the show, buy a ton of product, and return to the store with the same problem: Where do we put all this new stuff? There is a fine line that retailers walk between having too much inventory and not enough product. Thankfully, there are easy solutions to the space issue, even for the smallest boutiques.
Merchandise jewelry on a wall above other items in your store. For example, if you have a wall taken up by a cabinet that rises to about waist-level, the wall space above can be used as an area to hang necklaces, earrings, and bracelet bars can be set on top of the cabinet. Multiple collections can be shown at once with this approach, and valuable floor space is not utilized.
Get Brand-specific Displays
Anju Jewelry is a great example of a brand that carries beautiful and inexpensive jewelry displays. They carry unique, free-standing boards for necklaces, small ring holders, bracelet bars, and spinners for an entire collection. Brands like Anju take the guesswork out of where to put a new line.
A unique display idea our leadership team saw at Market was setting jewelry up on faux grass. Many stores have utilized the display idea of a frame as a border with burlap or cork filling the frame, and tacking the jewelry with thumb tacks or nails. A new twist on this is using faux grass as the background. Even covering a small piece of wall with faux grass and using it as a jewelry display area is very on trend. Kameleon shows in this photo that they are keeping up with the trends and merchandising with faux greenery!
Clothing sizes have changed dramatically throughout the years, even since the 1960’s. According to Time.com, Twiggy was a size 8 in 1958, and would be a size 00 by today’s standards! This rise is size is due to vanity sizing. Brands label garments with smaller sizes so that women feel better about their body type.
The good news for the average-sized woman (who is roughly a size 12-14) is that plus size fashion is on the rise, and one-size-fits-all clothing is no longer ubiquitous.
Our marketing team at The Link has found vendors advertising that they carry plus sized clothing at the most recent markets. Sizes 2X and 3X are now a part of many labels formerly XS-XL sized lines.
What does this mean for retailers? The trend forecast is telling us that one size fits all clothing is no longer an acceptable mantra. Customers expect specific sizing that addresses all sizes. Even mainstream denim lines are jumping on this train by offering curvy sizes in denim.
Coco and Carmen is one brand carried by Southern Link and Total Accessories that does offer a plus sized option. Many of the dresses, tops, and pant options come in a size XXL. Accent Accessories, available through Link2Sales, offers a 2X/3X size option. To stay relevant, retailers really need to consider increasing the size range within their stores.
As our leadership team explored many shows in the last few months, one item of note was denim. Jeans are now crossing over from being strictly a staple of apparel lines to becoming trend pieces that can stand on their own as a featured item.
Some vendors we have highlighted are Judy Blue Denim, Sneak Peek Denim, C’est Toi, and Cello Jeans. These vendors are all featuring denim as a hot seller. Jeans are coming with bedazzling in the form of pearls and rhinestones, as well as embroidery.
Our industry is now dipping their toes in the jeans blue waters. Rather than carrying a small offering of jeggings, often a one-size-fits-all piece, we are seeing denim in specific sizes. Customers are finding jeans not just in traditional department stores, but in a variety of small boutiques.
Accessibility and affordability are two huge factors in the denim explosion. Ten years ago, the market was dominated by jeans like Seven for All Mankind and True Religion that can run for around $200 per pair. Now, retailers are selling jeans for as low as $50-$60.
Waistlines have expanded to give all woman the best fit. Not only are waist lines in denim stretchy, but the size run has expanded to include plus sizes and fits for the curvy woman.
With the advent of Social Media, and the rise of the Milliennials as a huge customer base, it has become increasingly important to retailers that products are customizable. Many boutiques offer services like alterations or monogramming to tailor clothing and accessories to each person’s fancy.
FTH Wholesale is a great example of a line that we carry that does their own customizing. FTH can create jewelry for any high school or college of a customer’s choosing.
Boelter Brands specializes in collegiate products. They were on top of Superbowl merchandise specially made for the champion team, and they carry a huge array of college sports merchandise for teams in the SEC, Big Ten, and beyond.
Vivi Designs does affordable acrylic ponchos that many retailers purchase and monogram in house for their customers. With a product that has an excellent price point to begin with, adding a monogram option is still within the price range of many people who want a unique piece of outerwear. Think outside the box and focus on customizable items this fall!