Finding the right vendors!
There are many ways to find the right vendors you want to work with. Trust me, from my experience, there are many great vendors, but also some very poor ones. Many of the high end lines are companies that do not give any flexibility or support to a retailer who is branding their products (believe it ir not).
It still amazes me today how some companies are not looking at the long term profit margin vs short term. For instance, they may want you to order a minimum quantity of $10K with your first order. Since privately owned retail boutiques are not comparable in budget to Neiman Marcus or Bloomingdales, it is hard to invest that kind of money up front. But there are ways to negotiate to bring the minimum down.
Once we did a gift basket to the stars for Oscars in Hollywood, CA, and we negotiated with our vendors to donate all of the products for us. The credibility and the publicity went to our store, and our suppliers were happy to get there products in front of a celebrity audience. This is all due to nurturing a great relationship with vendors. Again we consult with our clients on how to negotiate and work with your vendors so it is win win situation for all parties involved.
Another example, we brought a very exclusive line into our store. It was very difficult to even get a conversation with them when I had frist contacted them. But I knew in my gut that this line would do really well in the store so I was not about to take “no” for an answer. ( I knew based on the target market this was a great match for us. It is very important to know your market before looking into ANY lines you want to bring into the store. )
Eventually, the vendor agreed that it was a good fit, and lowered the minimum opening order far below their usual minimum. Shortly after introducing it, this line became the number one seller in our store AND it was also the most expensive line in the store. If you can imagine, customers would actually pay $45 for a single hand-milled bar of soap. Of course, the line and it’s unique background and history really helped.
But my point is that you have to know how to find products that are well matched to your retail theme and target market. I did a LOT of research to find my products. We would get many of sales reps coming into our store to try and convince us to carry a line in our boutique. 90% of these were NOT well suited to my market, and I passed on them. But, the lines I hand selected through my own research did very well. This is definitly an important aspect of getting launching your retail boutique, and when you spend the time and attention to selecting your products right, your sales will reflect it.