When I interviewed Janet Goldman, owner of Fragments in Soho, NY, our April Cool Store, I found it interesting that her retail store began as an experimental workshop for the designer talent she had been nurturing in her wholesale business.
The retail jewelry boutique provided immediate feedback from consumers (and retailers) for the 30 to 35 designers she represents. And it still does, of course.
“I had a showroom at 107 Greene Street,” Goldman says. “I cut off the front quarter of the showroom and that was the store. So when customers came to shop wholesale they had to walk through the store. I didn’t realize what a good idea that was initially. Retailers can see how a particular designer’s work will look in a retail environment."
So, take the opportunity to learn from your customers.
Make an effort to treat your store as a grand experiment — at least for a day. Pay attention to what customers are drawn to, ask them questions about what lines they like and what they would like to see in your cases, particularly as you prepare for trade shows. Try to look at your store, your inventory and your displays through your customers eyes.
And when you do go to a show and consider new designers or lines, consider this tip from Janet Goldman: "First, walk through very quickly and see what catches your eye." Then go back and give it a second look.