As well as the usual business of predicting trends and keeping up with current styles, at A Shop Called Wood we’ve used the past month to restructure our buying policies, which meant dropping mediocre brands.
In tough times you have to be straight with brands that do not perform, letting them know as soon as possible if you are not going forward with them for next season, so you can make room on the shopfloor for unique and interesting product.
Sourcing new brands is crucial, especially for indies, and doubly so in a volatile economic environment.
Products that cohere with the rest of your buy and create a story will enable a small drop to stand on its own on the shopfloor and prevent it from getting lost among larger collections. Keeping things fresh is also essential to bring customers back to the store.
Over the past few weeks the hunt for new product has taken me and my colleagues to Paris and Copenhagen, where we have seen truly directional brands that have worked hard to produce good-quality collections. This has also been true of London, where we’ve made umpteen visits this buying season.
The challenge for indies is to keep within budget. We manage it with regular, minimal drops sourced from new and exciting brands. As well as enticing customers into the store, these new finds give us plenty of blog material to generate traffic to the website which, if updated regularly, turns into sales.
We also have to maintain a clear vision and stop ourselves getting carried away. It’s the easiest thing to say: “We’ll have this, that, this, this and that” but, before you know it, your customer is confused and the ethos of your store - your brand - has been compromised.
Tersam Sangha is the owner of menswear indie A Shop Called Wood in Manchester