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Hats, shoes, jewelry, scarfs; oh yeah...accessories

September 6, 2007

There was an episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Patsy goes on a television show to talk about trends in fashion. However, in her drunken and drugged state (which was normal for her), she couldn’t remember the word for the fashion category that includes hats, shoes, purses, jewelery, and scarfs. Of course, the word she was looking for was accessories. I wonder how many of us will forget accessories when we go to market?

This morning, I was looking around my store and thought, "Gee, I sure have a lot of tabletop stuff in my store." After doing the math, I actually had about $10,000 or so invested in plastic glasses, place mats, napkins, plastic plates, serving pieces, and artificial floral arrangements. We even have fake plastic food (hamburgers, salads, martinis, etc.). Even though it isn’t a lot of money, it is a lot of inventory which goes a long way to make my store look better. Every set on the floor is accessorized with something; usually place mats, plates, glasses, and folded napkins. Conversational groups have cocktails and hors d’ourves trays set on them. Its the sizzle that sells the steak.

I look at accessories as an expense that I may or may not recover. If I don’t recover it, I chalk it up to advertising. In fact, I sometimes use accessories as loss leaders during sale events. I will mark them down 30% and then make a big point of "savings of 30% on selected items" in my advertising.

There are a gajillion gift markets every year. I try to go to Atlanta in January and July but I always go to the temp floors at the Chicago Casual Market. It always surprises me when exhibitors on the temp floors complain that buyers aren’t coming down to see them. They are only a quick elevator ride away and it shouldn’t take more than two or three hours to see them all (that does not include the time you might spend at temp furniture booths). The small amount of time and money invested is more than made up in creating a tempting buying environment for your clients.

I would like to know what your thoughts are about this. Do you buy accessories? If not, why not? If so, how do you use them?

Yours in confused retailing, BruceShot of our accessory sectionThis shows about one quarter of the wall we use to display accessories.Brown Jordan Coast Dining Group accessories with brown and blue place mats, bamboo design plates, faux crab salad, mimosa glasses, and a floral arrangement.