We sent out a short survey to our entire email database about 2 months ago because your feedback is important and we really care what you think. We read every single response, took notes and had meetings. We know there are things we need to improve and we are working on it every day. Managers at each location have created action plans and have held meetings of their own. We want your business and we appreciate everyone who took time to complete the survey.
There were some remarks that I want to address personally, as the owner of the business.
1. “Prices are too high, can buy something new for the same price”.
While this may at times be true, you wouldn’t be able to buy the same quality for the same price. Our database stores all selling price information and this allows us to price based on sales price history. If we miss (and we do sometimes), the item will get reduced. We look for good to best brands and designers, and couture items that cannot be found in discount stores. Buying resale of better made, higher quality items will cost more and hold value longer than cheaply made goods.
2. “Prices are too low”.
This comment was made a couple of times by consignors who want more for their items than we can sell them for. It’s a balancing act (backed by excellent data) to price merchandise so it’s fair and enticing to the customer to buy, while being fair and enticing to the consignor to continue bringing in items for consignment. Amazon and other large internet retailers are making it difficult for brick and mortar retailers to compete with their continual sales and discounts, and free shipping. We must stay competitive in our pricing for this reason.
3. “Need more _____________ (blank being a type of clothing such as plus-sizes or menswear or anything we don’t have enough of)”.
Our merchandise comes from you! We don’t limit any type of merchandise and take everything that comes in as long as it is in the right season, in great shape and is a style that is selling well for us, in our market. We cannot conjure up more men’s suits or plus-size dresses, though I wish I could. We turn down hundreds of items a day that don’t meet our standards because they are stained, outdated or too worn and we carefully look for items we know you want. We study trends for men, women and home and seek out those items. We watch our database for what is selling and pinpoint what didn’t sell each month. We always need more consignors with current, in demand merchandise in excellent condition. We pass “so-so” or mediocre merchandise because customers won’t buy it. Sometimes things slip through that shouldn’t. Please bring anything substandard to our attention and we will remove it from the floor.
4. “Why must we put things on hangers??”
Ok, only one person asked this but I wanted to answer it. On busy days we look through about 500 items and sometimes more. When items are on hangers, we can quickly assess each item and we know the time it takes to look through 25 pieces on hangers. This keeps us from getting backed up and making the next consignors wait longer than necessary. If items are in a bag and not on hangers, we have to pull out each item, lay it out, look front and back and make a pile to keep and a pile to send back. This takes up more space (that we don’t have) and time. Items can also easily fall or get mixed up if not on hangers. Hangers can be rubber-banded and labeled quickly, those to keep and those to return. We ask that you stay for your returns because we do not have storage room to keep returns and too often we’ve had to donate “held returns” at the end of the day. If items come in on hangers, we can process quickly and efficiently and your wait should not be too long. Exceptions to our processes ultimately slow us down and this affects everyone.
5. “Why is there a $12 membership at each location?”
We believe in transparency and our web-based software allows us to be just that but it comes at a cost for each location. For $12 a calendar year, you have access to your consignment account to see what has sold, how things are priced, what we owe you and if a check has been mailed. This information is available to you 24/7 so you don’t have to wait until we are open to find out. Your data is safe in the cloud in the event something terrible happens. That’s one part of it, the other is we move your items for you to the store we believe will sell your items the best. Often this means you will have merchandise at both clothing locations.
6. “I wish the split was 50/50”.
Yes, back in the old days we could operate on 50/50 splits but not anymore. The cost of doing business has gone up exponentially since then and my primary job is to make sure I can pay my consignors, pay my employees and pay my bills every single month. We offer group benefits to full time employees and a 401K. We offer educational opportunities via seminars and workshops and paid time off. Insurance premiums continue to rise as do rents, utility bills, payroll and supplies. Again, the cost of doing business in a brick and mortar location is high. This business can’t survive on 50/50 splits.
I hope addressing some of the more business-related questions has helped you understand us. I understand you a little better now and appreciate all of your feedback, so much of it positive and glowing, which validated what we are doing, and especially the no-so-glowing words (thoughtfully and kindly articulated) because I know there are things we need to address, work on, improve and straighten out. I don’t have my head in the sand and I know we can always improve.