At college in Kalamazoo, I worked with several small boutiques learning about inventory, marketing and more. So I was excited to get hands on experience on the other side, the vendor. Learning what it takes to be successful in today’s society has been a blast so far, but it’s also been eye-opening finding out how hard it is to maintain and grow at the same time.
We traveled out to one of our newest retailers, Victoria’s on Main, to meet with the store owner / buyer. I was able to learn more about the store’s target market and vision just by listening to Brynn and Victoria talk about the bags, the customers and how it’s merchandised. We brought in a handful of new handbags and helped rearrange the handbag wall. We made sure there was pops of color throughout to draw the consumer in and hopefully make them want to try on the bags.
At the office, I research small boutiques that fit our target market and hopefully will be interested in carrying our handbags. Starting off, I thought this would be an easy, fast google search, but later realized the time effort that goes into this. When searching for potential boutiques, I would just google around and explore the stores’ websites and check out their merchandise. I also would dig a little deeper by viewing their Instagram profiles and looking at their tags to gain a further insight on their customer clientele.
During the vendor process, I started updating contact information for potential boutiques that we were interested in. I was shocked to discover how many went out of business just since last year. In today’s economy, I feel it is so much harder to be a successful small business especially with large discount stores that are taking over the market. More and more people are turning to discount stores like Wal-Mart, a one stop discount store, or online with Amazon instead of shopping locally and supporting small businesses. One thing I do applaud Amazon for doing is starting a handmade marketplace for small businesses to sell their products on.
Way back when, small businesses are what MADE the market and it is sad to see the slow decline. Small business owners dedicate so much time and labor to bring their stores’ to life and to keep them alive. Personally, I love shopping locally because I know what I am getting for my money and where my merchandise is actually coming from. Also by shopping locally you are able to have a more personal experience. Your customer service is more personalized, and hands on. Owners are committed to YOU, the buyer, and personally care to make your shopping experience the best.
Product diversity options are more open and offer greater inventory, and local business owners are more likely to give back to your community. Small business owners deliver community character and economic advantages to their local towns. Many small businesses support local causes, and schools. I feel as small businesses are always there to give back to you, so you should continue to give back to them. In order to continue local shopping and to keep open small businesses we need to do our part and shop local.
Although the struggle is real, I am working hard to do my part in growing and maintaining our retail partnerships. Now, I just want to secure new boutiques and expand the brand.