Friday, August 8, 2008

Building Streetwear Retail 101 with James from Attic

1) How/Why did you open up Attic?

My story begins from a consumer standpoint. Being a consumer to the streetwear/sneaker market is already hard as it is. If the internet didn’t exist, I couldn’t imagine how the culture could survive for people out of reach of major cities. First and foremost, shops were hard to locate. But that is only the beginning. After you find the shop, either you will encounter horrible customer service but if that wasn’t an issue, finding sizes and additional styles was the next obstacle. This may sound very cliché but the concept of the Attic was to provide customers a new shopping experience. We aimed at breaking all the boutique shopping stereotypes by providing customer service, selection and representation. To fulfill the representation goals, a large shop was needed. I feel the most difficult job for consumers as well as brands is developing a loyal relationship. When a shop only has 1-2 styles of a brand, it makes it difficult for that consumer to build that relationship up to identify with a brand’s mission and vision. We wanted to change that with our store concept to show certain brands are more than what others thought they were by representing numerous styles and showing all different personalities of their vision.

2) Top 5 things a sales rep should not do approaching a buyer.

Rule 1, drop the arrogance. You are selling clothes. Rule 2, do not lie to get a buyer on the phone by saying you are from somewhere else. Rule 3, do not show up places without an appointment. Rule 4, don’t push shit you don’t stand behind 100%. Trying to make a quick buck off commission now will jeopardize a future relationship. If you are going to push, if the shit don’t sell, take it back as the buyer took it upon himself the respect the salesman’s opinion on basis of trust. Rule 5, listen first and talk later. Listen to the buyer’s needs to understand his business. God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason. The more you understand, the more you will be able to sell since you can specialize products to cater and when that confidence is there, buyer’s will go harder on styles and quantities.

3)What is the worst decision you have made on a buy?

Don’t hesitate on giving the name of the line or the name of the female sales rep! Trusting brands too easily. Like I mentioned earlier about the rules, it seems like the salesman’s shelf life with brands are short so I understand their motives for the hustle. But burning that bridge once can be a costly mistake for the future. I can’t single out brands because I am a buyer that prides himself on taking care of his own mistakes. Very rarely do I do an RA and I always pay on time in cash. Rookie mistakes can be going to hard on certain future booking styles with the intentions of trying to ride the hype wave. Another mistake can be size runs. That is the key to a successful sell through, understanding your consumers. Size runs can be dictated by many outside factors like colors, graphics, genre and local demographics.

4) What are the characteristics of being a good buyer?

First and foremost, unless you are a formally trained buyer working under senior buyers or a buying manager at your major dept. stores, everyone has to be burned to learn. It is a numbers game essentially, but a good buyer knows when to make judgment calls with trend projection and its growth rate. A good buyer should go out and see what the competition is carrying. Study your local hangouts and see what people are wearing. I feel the internet is a great source for information but sometimes, the rate of change always seems to be the most forward in comparison to traditional retail formats.

5)Advise to new brands trying to sell Attic.

Would including a bottle of Hennessy in sample set sent over help? I am not much of a drinker so that wouldn’t help. Just make sure to send in a properly developed linesheet. Don’t ask a buyer what a linesheet is, that is automatically termination for consideration. Don’t go in there trying to tell a buyer what their store is. In our stores, unless you are a developed known brand, unknown brands can choose to go in on consignment terms if the line you are presenting seems sellable. We don’t discriminate on only hyped name brands. If the designs are fresh, we are confident we can move it.

No comments: