Western & English Today

Fall 2016

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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FALL 2016 Hill names other manufacturers who sell online but also support her, including Old Gringo, Totem Salvaged, and Richard Schmidt Jewelry. "ey share our social me- dia posts, and that helps our sales." She likes that she has choices. "We get to select the 'best of their best' and to present it both online and in our store to consum- ers. at can be a lot more interesting and appealing shopping experience for them." IT'S A SMALL WORLD "e Westernwear industry is a small and connected group of people," says Kim Mon- cure of retailer Cowgirl Kim in Blanco, Texas. "I want to do business with manufacturers who help me move product." As with Hill, loyalty goes a long way. Moncure's biggest line is Double D Ranch, she says. "Of course, ideally, every retailer would like it if manufacturers sold exclu- sively to stores, but Double D's owners are businesswomen like me. I love their fresh designs and love working with them." Sure, some customers want to buy directly from the designer. "ey think it's more 'au- thentic' that way," she says. "Consumers who want sale items will shop for the best deal." It's challenging when a manufacturer requires a retailer to price product at their same price, mark it up, or they prohibit a sale, she says. "at's an issue when I need to move merchandise — I'll be the one le with 30,000 items in inventory!" Example: A manufacturer may stipulate two sale dates a year, marked to only 25 per- cent. "If we go lower, they won't sell to us," she says. e opposite occurs when she buys mer- chandise and the manufacturer liquidates the same items on a mega-site such as Amazon, but hasn't given her the markdown go-ahead. "e customer buys from me at full re- tail and then sees it online. ey're not hap- py," says Moncure. "en I must decide if I want to carry that line again." Yes, online is convenient, but the one- stop shopper with an unlimited budget makes her store a destination of choice. "Customers don't want to go to three dif- ferent places to get clothing, jewelry, and boots. I have it all, and that's what I can offer that the manufacturer can't." A newer entry in the marketplace, Sue He- berger at Triggers Boutique in Reno, Nevada, says her "stomach sometimes knots up" when she thinks about "online" retailing. It's not always right for her core customers who are more old-fashioned, she says. "ey just walk through the door and ask me, 'What's new?' " With banner lines including Double D Ranch and Tasha Polizzi, that works. "My dream was to have my cute little store and just have everybody come try on quality clothes. I never wanted to compete with on- line, but in this day and age, you have to," she says. "You can't just sit back and hope people find you." Her online business is good, although it ebbs and flows. "When I get a good shipment, I hit that hard," Heberger says. A web presence hasn't notably revised her buying patterns, nor has she had to purchase "extra" yet. "I'm just ordering what I need and it works," she says. NOT SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE More than 50 years in the business have taught Pinto Ranch president and CEO Walter Pye Jr. that anything can happen and will. Counting online as 10 percent of his business, Pye, like many website owners, is launching a new site to make it more mobile-friendly. "We do continue to share information with most of our competitors, but not with the ones that compete with us," Pye says. Department stores and other inde- pendent retailers have given brands their credibility and exposure, he says. "en manufacturers get greedy and have a dif- ferent profit motive. ey want to have both wholesale and retail but ultimately they're 'cannabalizing' their business." Manufacturers should realize they're not adding new business when they sell online — they're taking other business from retailers who were selling it before, he says. "at said, with such expensive occu- pancy costs, it is difficult to make money as an independent retailer," he says. "A man- ufacturer with a vertical operation needs distribution for their product, but it's not necessary to show a profit on their retail operation as long as they make money at wholesale. at's not a level playing field. We have to make money on retail." He says while seeking relevant lines, "the current environment has made us much more creative in finding alternative solutions." Manufacturers whose own stores com- pete with other independent retailers do have an advantage, which can also be a dis- advantage, he says. "ey can offer a wider selection and put everything into that store. en they have to sell it." ere's one thing Pye and his fellow retail- ers, along with manufacturers, know for sure. e last chapter of this story is still unwritten. "Stay tuned," Pye says.

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