The Buying Trip: Behind the Scenes with Jill Sloan

Owning a clothing store definitely has it perks, especially for your closet, but don’t be fooled. It’s not always like walking into the Vogue closet and freely grabbing any outfit for last minute drinks with your friends. First, you have to buy the clothes for your store and that’s not an easy task. So, I would like to give a little preview to our readers about what exactly goes into our buying trips and how we get those amazing outfits on our racks and shelves.

The Tradeshow

NY clothing tradeshow

Many tradeshows occur during the year but our most recent buying trip is one of the biggest ones we attend. The Coterie is a tradeshow that follows Fashion Week in New York City and this year it was held September 19-21 at NYC’s colossal Javits Center. We were seeking out our picks for spring 2013…yes, it was fall and we were already buying for spring.

We flew out on a 6 AM flight (ouch) on the 19th so we could be at our first appointment with Halston by 9 AM. Since these tradeshows can have as many as 500 booths, we set up appointments with designers we already carry and new ones we would like to try. Some European/upscale designers do not participate in the show, but their showrooms are open so we set our appointments with them before the show opens and after it closes. Needless to say, designers are spread all across the city, so this is where the schlepping comes in and the glamour goes out!

Shopping and Schlepping

NYC clothes shopping

Our days consisted of a lot of cabbing and walking around the city which means we are always hot, our feet hurt, and our arms feel like they could fall off from carrying 50 pound bags filled with various literature and notes. But, that is just the physical aspect, as the mental anguish is usually what exhausts us the most. During our appointments, working with either the sales rep or the designer, we are shown their current collection. They present many pieces with numerous options and we often find ourselves saying, “Our customers wouldn’t care for that” or “Does it come in alternate colors or different fabric?” All the while, we take notes and then have to sort through, 1) the pieces that will work best for the store, 2) other items we already ordered, and 3) our budget. Our heads are filled with choices and decisions and it’s not easy to make a decision when you don’t even have time to eat. Unfortunately, all those fabulous NYC restaurants, we can only wave while passing them in a cab at high rates of speed.

Labor of Love

Jill Sloan

In the end, we conquered 65 appointments…and that was just in clothing! This year we visited with our regular designers, such as, DVF, Trina Turk, Halston, Alice and Olivia, and Robert Rodriguez and also some new designers we are excited to carry in spring, like Plein Sud and McQ.

So, I hope by sharing this experience you have a better understanding of how a buying trip works and that Santa’s elves don’t just deliver our items to our doorstep (which would be nice)! But regardless of the schlepping, lack of food, and sleep, it’s a labor of love, our love for our Charlotte boutique and our fantastic customers.

For an idea on what the inside of a tradeshow looks like watch this quick clip from You Tube on the Javits Center’s February tradeshow.