Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The State of Retail

It's been awhile since I've posted, but if you've been by the store and I haven't been there, you've seen my little heart-shaped post-its with the "Be Back Soon" messages and know that I've been busy as a bee handling business for the store, handling business for my travel adventure camp for girls, developing a new e-commerce site at, going to conferences and expos, and simply having a good time.  Whew.  As I type this blog post, I'm in my (lovely) hotel room in Las Vegas on the tippy-top floor of the Aria, a new hotel here on The Strip.  (My husband, who got comped for 3 days at MGM Grand, the Bellagio and here, selected this hotel because it's new.  And I'm not mad at that either.)  When you walk into your room, the drapes open automatically and the lights come on and every single thing is managed technologically from the control panel next to the bed.  It's a modern, luxuriuos room and the bathroom is absolutely to die for.  When I'm not at the conference I came here for, I'd rather be up here than in the smoky casino down below.  Anyway....enough about Vegas. 
I was quoted recently in an Oakbook article about the proposed sales tax hike by saying "It sucks for retail and retail sucks right now” and by the looks of things here at MAGIC - the preeminent trade event in the international fashion industry that takes place twice a year in Las Vegas - I was dead on.  What was once a massive fashion expo with tons of people is now a moderately sized event with much fewer attendees and vendors...and it's painfully obvious.  I don't even see any fashion groupies.  And you know something's up when the groupies don't show.  LOL.
About a year ago, when all you heard about in the media was the demise of retail, I was doing extraordinarily well at the store.  I thought I must've been doing something right.  And then it was my store's turn...and for the past 6 months, it's been...well, let's just say...retails sucks.  LOL.  I buy with far more care than I used to and although (as you know), my prices are more than fair, I'm a little slower to bring in higher end items.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I have my faithful loyal customers and I get new customers every day (that I'm open) because of the high foot traffic area.  But I've had lots of my regulars come in to tell me that they've been laid off and/or they're moving out of State and/or their hours have been cut.  And I feel really bad for them too.
I hope I don't sound depressing or anything, because that's not at all how I feel.  I love my part-time boutique, I love my customers (mostly ... LOL), I love being a buyer, and I love presenting (aka merchandising).  Retail is rewarding in many ways and being here at MAGIC is just one of the perks.  I managed to order a little bit of really cute stuff and I can't wait for you to see what'll be coming in.  (I'm really looking forward to bringing back stuff from Paris again this November though.  You all bought me out in less than 10 days the last time.  Stay tuned for more info about that.) 
Well, I guess I'll go downstairs and hang out with my husband before we head out.  Our flight leaves for Oakland tonight at around 9pm and I've got to catch a flight to Los Angeles (just for the day) tomorrow.  But Art & Soul is this weekend, so look for me there as I won't re-open the store until Tuesday or so.  I miss talking to all of you and hope to see you soon.  Until we meet again, remember to always wear cute stuff.  LOL.
Your Oakland Shop Girl,
Tracey =)