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Opening a high-end men's store - Page 4

post #46 of 83
arvi, I didn't say I would buy, I said I would come in and leaf through your ties. My understanding is that you will be overpriced...
post #47 of 83
The under this topics title it asks, "Do you think we could do it better." My answer; have the best merchandise, yes, be very knowledgeable, yes, treat our customers with respect and not be condescending, well... only if ernest doesn't work there. All this aside, don't you think that anyone who opens a business thinks they could do it better than all the existing ones out there? I'm sure that Jay Kos and the curmudgeon from Andover Shop thought the same thing we do.
post #48 of 83
My point is that when everyone starts a business they have the same thoughts, "all these other people are idiots, I can do it better and make money at the same time" but that's not how it works out in the real world... not that there aren't ways to improve every business, just that it may be more difficult than you may imagine without being in the industry. Who knows, maybe you can do it and make the men's shop to end all men's shops.
post #49 of 83
Johnny, I was unable to find any information detailing the profits (or losses) of these types of stores, but did locate WWD's top 10 list of indie store by volume. It's an interesting and informative read.
The WWD List: Ranking the Independents: The top 10 independent specialty stores by estimated 2004 volume In an effort to survive and even thrive, specialty stores are becoming more, well, special. At a time when Saks Fifth Avenue is reasserting its luxury prowess and Neiman Marcus is posting strong financial results, the independents are scrambling to do more of what they do best. That includes providing superior service, discovering and introducing talented designers and unique merchandise, and forging relationships with designers to create exclusive products for their stores. Some specialty retailers are trying to turn their locations into sought-after destinations with amenities such as restaurants and bars. The all-important in-store boutique brings clout to a specialty store, sending the message that a designer believes strongly in the future of the retailer. 1. FRED SEGAL/RON HERMAN, LOS ANGELES AND SANTA MONICA, CALIF. $75 million Fred Segal in 1968 opened a 200-square-foot jeans store on Melrose Avenue, eventually expanding his collection of independently-owned shops along the entire block. A second store opened in Santa Monica in 1985. Ron Herman, who commands the largest space in the Melrose Avenue location, sells young designers, his own RH Vintage collection, jewelry and CDs. Herman has established a name for himself with freestanding stores in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Costa Mesa and recently, Malibu, Calif., where he caters to a casual crowd with Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Missoni. Herman, who reportedly takes in $40 million in the five locations, is developing a Web site and selling his own collections in Asia and Europe. 2. MITCHELLS OF WESTPORT, CONN., AND RICHARDS IN GREENWICH, CONN. $65 million Last year, the 28,000-square-foot Mitchells in Westport, Conn., underwent a renovation that reallocated more space to women's and turned back office space into men's retail. Both Mitchells and Richards in Greenwich, Conn., added Manolo Blahnik and Jil Sander to the fashion roster this year and both stores have Hermès boutiques. The two family owned units carry many of the same resources but their customers rarely overlap. Tod's and Prada handbag shops are located at Mitchells. The Westport store has been developing a jewelry business with designers such as Rene Lewis, David Yurman and Michael Beaudry. The company hopes to replicate the success of jewelry at Richards. 3. SCOOP $40 million Owners Stefani Greenfield and Uzi Ben-Abraham opened the first Scoop store in 1996 with the intent of creating the ultimate closet. With eight stores, including ones in SoHo, the West Village and the Upper East Side in Manhattan, Greenvale, N.Y., East Hampton, N.Y., Greenwich, Conn., the Shore Club Hotel in Miami and Las Vegas, Scoop has a well-honed formula for success. The plan now is to expand, and where possible, separate men's and women's into stand-alone units. A new concept, Scoop Starting Young, for fashion-conscious two- to 12-year-olds, is planned for Washington Street in the West Village near existing Scoop units. 4. JEFFREY NEW YORK AND JEFFREY ATLANTA $33 million Jeffrey Kalinsky never takes his finger off the pulse. One of the newest additions to his women's fashion lineup at Jeffrey New York is Libertine, a collection designed by Johnson Hartig and Cindy Greene that takes traditional tweedy jackets and kilts into edgy territory with raw edges and a penchant for silk-screening. Kalinsky has also been teaming up with designers on exclusive products for the store. Project Alabama, for example, created a limited edition of 14 dresses, with some styles selling for as much as $12,000. There's also a collection for Jeffrey from Pierre Cardin based on the designer's original styles in updated fabrics. 5. WILKES BASHFORD, SAN FRANCISCO $32 million Wilkes Bashford is more elegant than edgy and more traditional than trendy, as befitting a retailer that's been part of San Francisco's Union Square shopping scene since 1966. The store carries Agnona and Monique Lhuillier for women, and Brioni and Kiton for men. Three years ago, the company opened a 10,000-square-foot, full-line store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Two WilkesSport stores in St. Helena and Mill Valley offer casual fare such as Bogner skiwear. In the downtown San Francisco flagship, a Pratesi baby boutique opened, and in November, Wilkes at Home by Pratesi arrives. 6. Stanley Korshak, Dallas $30 million Since Crawford Brock bought this 50,000-square-foot luxury emporium two years ago following a long tenure as president, he has moved Stanley Korshak into edgier collections, such as Behnaz Sarafpour and Roberto Cavalli. Brock expanded the home and bridal boutiques and is building a bar near the entrance of the store. Three new women's designer shops, the names of which he declined to reveal, will open in January. A Carolina Herrera boutique opened last November. "We've taken every business and done a five-year plan," said Brock. "It's exploding all over the place." 7. TOOTSIES, HOUSTON $29 million Tootsies is excelling with such colorful collections as Missoni, Etro and Dolce & Gabbana and is picking up several young designers for spring, including Derek Lam, Wyeth and Behnaz Sarafpour. Owner Mickey Rosmarin said the Dallas and Atlanta units are especially strong within his small chain, which began with the flagship in Houston and includes a contemporary store in San Antonio. The Atlanta store doubled in size last fall when Rosmarin moved it across the street from Lenox Square mall. New shoe departments managed "” not leased "” by Madison in Los Angeles are on tap for spring in Dallas and Houston, and part of the Houston store is getting a facelift. 8. MARIO'S, PORTLAND, ORE., AND SEATTLE $25 million In keeping with the company's emphasis on service, Mario's Portland store, which celebrates is second birthday in November, has started a personal shopping service called 1-2-1. Mario's also operates a unit in Seattle. The store's strength is mixing resources so they relate to one another, said fashion director Lynwood Holmberg. Last year, Mario's added Chloé, Derek Lam and Agnona. New footwear collections include Georgina Goodman's handmade shoes and Edmundo Castillo's sexy heels. Holmberg said the stores are selling more separates such as cashmere sweaters and novelty jackets. Colorful Etro and Pucci prints are also flying, she said. 9. HIRSHLEIFER'S, MANHASSET, N.Y. $18.5 million Hirshleifer's continues to tinker with its floor plan, expanding the real estate for its most popular resources and adding new designers' products in an effort to give its loyal customers exactly what they want. A freestanding 1,800-square-foot franchised Dolce & Gabbana boutique recently opened and a Jil Sander shop of the same size will be unveiled at the end of the month. The Chanel area, wildly popular with the local ladies, is doubling in size, and an 800-square-foot boutique devoted to Jimmy Choo, another perennial favorite, opened. The retailer is like an exclusive department store, only everything is handpicked with the customer in mind. 10. LOUIS BOSTON $18 million Louis Boston's women's collections are a who's who of new and established designers. Under Debi Greenberg, who bought Louis from her father, Murray Pearlstein, in 2003, collections such as Age, Colombo, Goat and Octo-Hettabretz mingle with Marni, Loro Piana, Balenciaga and Zac Posen. The 45,000-square-foot store has a music bar, a new Morgenthal Frederics eyewear counter on the main floor and an expansive home department with everything from vintage furniture and bedding to chocolates and dog treats. There's also the Salon Mario Russo and the highly rated Restaurant L.
post #50 of 83
Ben Silver has part of the better idea. A store should only anchor the web and catalog business. Then recall that most of the suits sold in England until the 60's were in shops that sold MTM. You picked out your fabric and features and the suit showed up a couple weeks later. Tom James does more revenue in the U.S. than just about any retailer this way. So you adopt the traveling tailor idea just like the English and Hong Kong guys. Higher margins than reselling Kiton. One store, web shopping and travelling MTM. All the marketing works together. My two cents. Will
post #51 of 83
WWD's top 10 list of indie store by volume
WWD and the stores listed are for the Womens' business. Interesting topic. A couple of points: 1) Unless you have a reputation (experience), none of the brands mentioned will return your call - let alone sell you. 2) Before you can get great merchandise, you have to have a great environment. We just built our third store here in Richmond; 8000 sq. ft. cost $600,000 to build out. 3) Whose going to do your tailoring? Got to buy sewing machines, pressers, boiler...not to mention the people to run these machines. 4) Payroll and rent will take away 30-35% of your sales. Assuming, of course, you don't want to work alone. And this does not include what you have to pay on the note to build out the store. Again, the 'best' brands generally don't sell mom and pops. 5) Don't assume that the stores with big reputations are succeeding - one of the big names just mentioned just got cut off by one of their principal tie vendors who did most of their private label work due to their inability to pay LAST years invoices. Another has lost 30% of it's volume over the last couple of years, and has turned to South American production to help improve the margins. A very well known shoe store with multiple locations in the SW and W of the US placed an order with a manufacturer at the show in Italy with one of my vendors in September. Before I was done, the Director got a call on the cell phone from the Insurance Credit carrier declining to accept the order due to payment issues. 6) If you are new, and somehow able to develop a relationship with a well know, high-end brand, you better be right, all the time, from the get-go. Your hands are tied on price so you won't be able to discount your way out of mistakes. You'll be told what you are going to sell and for how much. 7) Credit will not be available to you from a vendor - you will pay up-front. Our store has been in business for over 30 years and has NEVER paid an invoice late. We pay our bills on the 10th of the month no matter what - and it still took 5 years of paying 30% at the time I placed an order and 70% before the order shipped before I was finally able to get terms from Italy last year. 8) You've heard the saying 'good help is hard to find'. Well, that's wrong; good help is virtually impossible to find. And it will cost you if you do. And this is what I think off the top of my head - if you wan't to go through all this, and take the huge financial risk, you better LOVE what you do - otherwise you don't have a chance. And when I say love, I mean love it 18 hours a day. Our owner came to America from Italy when he was 16 years old. He is now 63. He has not taken a day off (outside of buying trips) in all the days in between. Not one. No Sundays, no Thanksgivings', no Christmas', no New Years Days', not without going to the shop for at least a couple of hours. Shoulder surgery..it gets done at 6am so he can be back at the shop in the afternoon. Kidney stones...they can come between fittings. Kid's birthdays...schedule them in the afternoon upstairs in the stores' kitchen. That's owning a retail store. At least one that pays the bills.
post #52 of 83
This thread hass proven that among guys who really like clothes, running a clothing store is a pervasive fantasy. A store seems like a really big closet and buying for it seems like a really big shopping trip. Retailing is a grubby business. Smart, rich people are not rushing to open stores. On the contrary, the kind of store (aside from Louis, Wilkes, Mitchell's, Paul Stuart) we envision (intimate, high-quality, ethical) are dying as we dream. The observation that it's better to get a real job and pay full price than to work in retailing for the employee discount is certainly true. For people who think it's a good idea to work at what you love and who love clothing, catalogue or internet is a much more civilized way to sell. No surly tailors, no slobber-splattered mirrors, no sticky-fingered employees.
post #53 of 83
Every so often, I have this fantasy of opening a shoe store that carries everything that I think ought to be available in Houston but isn't. I'd have Vass, I'd have Edward Green, I'd have Santoni Fatte a Mano, I'd have a number of the more obscure Italians and eastern Europeans. It would be great. And then reality hits. There simply isn't the market in Houston for that many high-end brands. Even if there were, how would I get the manufacturers to sell to me? The Houston Neiman Marcus just recently began to carry a few Mantellassi models after years of trying to get them in the store: Korshak sells Mantellassi, and Mantellassi didn't want too much distribution in Texas. They wouldn't sell to Neiman Freaking Marcus. Why would I think that they would be willing to sell to me? And even if they were, there are the realities of retail that Rider mentions. It's hard, and I have great respect for those who are able to make it work and do it while providing a good product and good service.
post #54 of 83
Thread Starter 
RIDER's post is quite frightening -- I think he's trying to chase out competition. Anyways, this idea of mine was spawned by what I see as a dying marketplace - maybe it's dying because it is a dinosaur, maybe it is dying because of lack of creative risktaking (or a combination) -- and because I've seen that I can make a good deal of money just buying and reselling on Ebay, providing great service and a knowledge of my product. In any event, I see the next big thing being an Ebay seller like A. Harris doing an incredible amount of volume. Worldsfinest and Honest Goods price too high to be considered in Andrew's category.
post #55 of 83
Fascinating thread.
I think a good salesperson's job is to give honest (but positive) guidance when it is asked for, and encouragement to try something new when you see the light in someone's eyes.  To pressure someone into buying something they either don't want or cannot afford is doing a disservice to the shop(see "Bernini")..  The worst thing for a store to do to its reputation is to give a customer an acute case of buyer's regret.
I wish more salesmen understood this... Loved Rider's post. Listen to him, this is a guy who knows what he is talking about. If you want to do something like this, you'd better be willing to devote your life to it, with absolutely no guarantees. As for untapped areas, the new Pacific Tweed store in Carmel, CA came to mind. Nobody had ever tried to sell top-tier menswear in Carmel/Monterey before, despite the fact that it is an extremely wealthy area. Pacific Tweed seems to be doing very well, good for them. I've put a lot of thought into what my approach would be if I were to open a store. Would I stock only very expensive merchandise and aim for the very wealthy? Please understand that stores of that caliber are selling a service more than anything. Or would I offer merchandise at a lower price point that would blow away the offerings of other competing stores? Sounds good right? Well, I know I could stock a store full of very well made, well priced clothing, with a level of taste  far beyond a lot of stores out there. But that is not a guarantee that my store would succeed. Not by any means... It takes a whole lot more to run a successful specialty store than knowledge about clothes.
In any event, I see the next big thing being an Ebay seller like A. Harris doing an incredible amount of volume.
I appreciate the thought, but this is a lot easier said than done. My prices are as low as they are out of cruel necessity. No offense guys, but the members of this board are a good representation of my customer base, and you are THE toughest customers. You know clothes, you have clothes, and you aren't going to buy more unless they are practically being given away. I understand, as I buy for the exact same reasons. Offering clothing at the prices I do entails a huge amount of work per item. Upping the volume (that is assuming I could find enough merchandise) would be quite a task. And there is not much money to be made. Appreciate guys like Lance, Ian, honest*goods etc. Their stuff costs more than mine, but it is still an incredible value. If I had the cash, I would join them. I hope beyond hope that the prices on ebay will someday rise to a more reasonable point. Because if they do not, all the good sellers will probably die off. It's wonderful as a buyer to able to acquire brand new with tags and perfect $3500 suits, only a year or so old, for $700 or so. But it's not really realistic in an online marketplace - can you think of any other type of merchandise consistently offered at that sort of discount?? Of course, there will always be deals to be had, and I'm always happy when the guys here are scoring them - it's great to see the merchandise go to people who appreciate it
post #56 of 83
Personally, I think doing what you "love to do" for a job is a mistake because in the end it all becomes work at the end of the day.  I founded a fairly large internet/retail business in the automotive industry because of a love of cars and while it was successful, it stopped being fun after awhile so I sold it and moved onto bigger and better things.
I would disagree with you totally. I have been in the same line of work since graduation (molec. Bio) and am loving every single minute of it. Do I ever look at it as "Just work", no. I look at it as working towards a benifit for everyone. I have known a heck of a lot of people in my specialization, and not one hates their job, all of them are still very enthusiastic. I think one is extremely lucky to have a job which they love. You excluded
post #57 of 83
T4: I think you're misunderstanding my point, I'm not saying that you shouldn't like your job, on the contrary, I think it's very important to have a job that you like. However, what I'm saying is that you shouldn't think that because you love to do something as a hobby, that you'd also like to do it as a job and be successful at it, because it's not true that you will like to do something as a job just because you enjoy doing it for fun. I like my current job alot, even if it wasn't originally a hobby of mine.
post #58 of 83
T4:  I think you're misunderstanding my point, I'm not saying that you shouldn't like your job, on the contrary, I think it's very important to have a job that you like.  However, what I'm saying is that you shouldn't think that because you love to do something as a hobby, that you'd also like to do it as a job and be successful at it, because it's not true that you will like to do something as a job just because you enjoy doing it for fun.  I like my current job alot, even if it wasn't originally a hobby of mine.
Yes I do understand what you are saying. I was interested in genetics back in my high school days, and made it a "hobby" to read up and learn, totally outside the curriculum. Followed it to it's logical conclusion at uni, and now at work. Another example, a friend who enjoyed creating "bonsai" as a hobby left his job 5 years ago and now has a sucessful business selling bonsai. Is he happy... does a bear s**t in the woods? Another: a friend who as a child loved flowers, and after several years in a different field moved into the flower industry and is incredibly happy and sucessful.
post #59 of 83
I mentioned selling things online, as did other people. I'd like to make it clear that while it's become easier to be able to sell things online, running an online shop isn't necessarily easy.
post #60 of 83
T4 and Drizzt: It's great to love what you do--but at the same time, choosing a field because it's the one thing you really love to do "can" cause heartache. (I speak from experience.) As a teenager I got into radio--and I loved it--but playing the same stupid songs ("Hey Mickie") every hour for 12-16 weeks can really turn you off. I like my job now (in a different field), but I also have a much more mature understanding of what work and business is all about. I guess it's the difference between marrying your first teenage crush and finding someone who loves you back. T4, it sounds like you and your friends married the crush and it's working out--that's great. For me and my friends, it didn't.
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