Opening a high-end men's store

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnnynorman3, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    With all the talk of places like Mitchell's, Wilkes, and Louis Boston, I've been thinking: You don't see many places that that around.

    Outside of Boston, NY, and SF there aren't really a lot of great places like that, it seems. So, my question is, do you think that there are those on this board who could open a Wilkes Bashford type of place and operate it successfully. And when I say successfully, I'm talking about profits around $500,000 a year, at least.

    What does a place like Mitchell's bring in for yearly profits? I was in there the other day -- great store, but still could be better. Isn't there a hole in the high-end suburban men's clothing arena that could be filled by a store offering premium clothes (i.e. something above Hickey Freeman) and great service (i.e. people like Manton, A. Harris, etc.)?
     
  2. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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  3. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I know nothing about retail business, but I have seen a lot of small business plans in my life. the ones with the worst chance of success are usually those where the people are most "into" what they are doing. It is one thing to have a great idea for a store, it is another to be able to make a profit out of it.
     
  4. Thracozaag

    Thracozaag Senior member

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    I think it'd be a disaster along the lines of the movie "Big Night", if we tried to open up a high-end men's store. I could just see myself being Tony Shalub's character, refusing people service because they couldn't discern or appreciate the subtlelty of a hand-stitched buttonhole. [​IMG] koji
     
  5. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I think that there are enough forum members with good enough knowledge, contacts, and instincts to make up a terrific team of buyers. The main difficulty would be in making a viable business plan and choosing a realistic pricepoint. Most importantly, I think that such a shop, *especially* if the floor is run by enthusiasts such as we are, would require an ironhanded financial leader who would reign in the buyers from purchasing too many Attolini suits and Loomstate jeans for the Idaho market. I think that the ability to work imaginatively within such limits would make or break such an endeavor.

    Personally, I've always wanted to be a buyer, and can already think of half a dozen exclusive but not ridiculously expensive streetwear brands which would raise the cachet of the store, a few well known brands to bring in customers and anchor the store, and a few terrific accessories brands, all complementing the Seraphin shearlings, Attolini suits, and Vass shoes that A Harris might buy.
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Hey Koji, From my little corner, I'd encourage the prospective customers to jump over the counter and backhand you, just like I wanted to jumo that guy at the Andover Shop [​IMG] Actually, I would push strongly for a MTM program using Martin Greenfield in NY. Actually, maybe Gary Drinkwater could give us some insight on this, having opened up a super store himself recently.
     
  7. arvi

    arvi Senior member

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    i once read some advice to the effect that "find something you love, do it, and you'll be successful"..it sure beats spending one's life just working..but i wonder how many people are that lucky..i have loved clothing all my life and always dreamed of owning a menswear store and wonder if i would have been so fortunate..i thinks that passion, talent, business sense and some luck are all necessary ingredients..i'm sure that combination exists among some on this forum [​IMG]
     
  8. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Location would be another problem. I fear that any city with the clientele to support such a store already has enough options; the market is saturated. Cities that don't already have great stores probably don't have the clientele. This is a tough Catch-22.
     
  9. Alexis

    Alexis Senior member

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    The idea of coaxing someone into buying something from you...

    I'd hate to be a salesperson.
     
  10. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    From your picture, I'd say you'd be pretty good at it.

    But seriously, there is more than one kind of salesperson. High pressure twits are out there, but I wonder if they are really all that effective in the long run.

    A better model is someone who knows everything about what he is selling, knows everything about the competition, and takes the time to get to know the customer. A good salesmen will be honest: he'll the customer if something doesn't work, or if some other store has something that might work better. I have met salesmen like this in men's stores; I have also met the other kinds: the twits, the snobs, the ignorant, the indolent, etc.  I appreciate good, knowledgable service, and I bet other people do too.

    Andy Gilchrest is a case in point. From what I have read, he became a salesman at an LA Polo store as a hobby, almost, because he loves clothes.  But his passion and his knowledge worked in his favor. He became the top seller in that store. I doubt that was due to pressure tactics or to lying.
     
  11. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    This is where I slightly disagree, mainly because of sprawl. Urban dwellers are moving to surburbia, and new suburbia in fact. Those are the places that don't have market saturation at all. That's why Mitchell's is so successful. It identified a suburban location where the NYC businesspeople live, and it makes for a much more convenient option during evenings and weekends. That's sort of the model I'm talking about.

    As for business plans -- of course the business model is of the utmost importance. But, good service and good buying comes from knowledge, which is what this board has. And my experience here tells me that this board has fiancial intelligence as well. There are a lot of lawyers, etc. that populate this board. These people are certainly inherently more intelligent than the current Louis owner. I've always thought that a trained lawyer could be the best owner of a small-business.
     
  12. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    The best shops don't need to really do this, nor want to. 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.
     
  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Where is Mitchell's?
     
  14. itzamazing

    itzamazing Senior member

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    (johnnynorman3 @ 09 Nov. 2004, 09:55) Urban dwellers are moving to surburbia, and new suburbia in fact. Â Those are the places that don't have market saturation at all. Â That's why Mitchell's is so successful. Â It identified a suburban location where the NYC businesspeople live, and it makes for a much more convenient option during evenings and weekends. Â That's sort of the model I'm talking about.
    Where is Mitchell's?
    Mitchells is in Westport, CT. Richards (its sister store) is located in Greenwich, CT.
     
  15. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Is there an untapped market like this somewhere in the US? I'm trying to imagine such a store in suburban DC, for instance in Tyson's Corner, VA or dowtown Bethesda, MD. Somehow, I can't imagine it working. But DC is not exactly a style capital.
     

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