After my previous post on “How to Get the Brands You Want in Your Clothing Boutique”, I have received quite a few e-mails and questions on how exactly the buying process works.
Since I know quite a few people in different areas of the fashion industry, I thought that it would be helpful to interview my good friend Heather that is a Sales Rep at the California Market Center in Downtown Los Angeles for a children’s clothing line. I hope you find this interview helpful in the quest of opening your own boutique or store!
How long have you been working as a Sales Rep?
I have been a Sales Rep for 12 years.
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
This depends on the season, but usually I start my day off by checking my e-mail and responding to any customer inquiries. I also communicate with manufacturers (since we handle more than one brand in our showroom) about building their brand. I also will enter orders in our system after they are placed by our customers.
When customers come into the showroom, I will help them and if they are new to our showroom I will show them around, tell them about each line I have and then proceed to find out what they are looking for. We can write orders in the showroom or I give them my card and will follow up with them in a few days and write orders over the phone or through e-mail.
What shows would you recommend for first time Buyers to attend?
There are so many different shows for each area of the U.S. that I would recommend finding the show closest to where your store location will be. There are shows and markets in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, and many more.
Are shows the best way for a new Buyer to find what lines they want to carry? Where else should they look?
Shows and markets are definitely the best way. Here in LA we have an event at the Cal Mart called local Tuesdays. It lets locals come in and shop in the showrooms and get free lunch, free parking, and a Starbucks gift card. It is something to entice people to come during the week since we are here and it can get kind of slow when there’s not a market or show going on.
What should a new Buyer say/write to a Sales Rep when contacting them for the first time?
Most new buyers will either call or come in to the showroom and can feel extremely lost if it is their first time. I would say they should somewhat have an idea of what sizes they want in their store and the retail price point for their store and then we Sales Reps can take it from there. We’re there to help!
In my opinion walking around the showrooms and “shows” is the best thing to do because you can see the actual samples and the quality of the merchandise you will be buying versus if you purchase just from online then you really have no idea what the quality of the brand will be.
What is the best way to contact a Sales Rep?
Either by calling, e-mail, or stopping by the showroom. For us you can find our contact information from the Cal Mart’s website or the LA Kids Market website. We are happy to have buyers come into the showroom or we can also e-mail them our showroom’s website so they can view the lines that we carry from there.
What information will you need from a new Buyer in order for them to purchase?
In general, you will need your business license number (tax ID number) and seller’s permit number for us to be able to set up a new account for you. You will either need a storefront or a store website. Some brands you must have a brick and mortar store to be able to purchase a particular line and not just an online store. Most lines have a minimum dollar amount that the buyer must meet and that varies depending on the line. All first orders require a credit card. Then after your first order you can get terms. If it is a new store you probably won’t get terms for a least a year and with good credit.
A lot of times when opening a new store, Sales Reps want to know what other lines you carry in your store before they approve you. Since it’s a new business and not yet open, how should I answer that question?
A reason why they ask this question is because if the store that is opening is close to or next to another store we want to be sure there isn’t overlapping lines. We also want to make sure that the store is legit to help protect the brand from being sold on the street corner. 🙂