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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Independent apparel retailer unity

“No, but sounds like a great idea!”

That was the reaction from an independent apparel retailer in Round Rock to my question: “Is there an association of independent apparel retailers?

Consider this my invitation to all: If you can enlighten me to the existence of such an association, organization or network to unite independent apparel retailers I would like to know about it. Also, I invite you to view, “CHALLENGES OF THE FUTURE”, a resource by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

What effect does the IE-Network have on the unity of independent apparel retailers?

First, unity among IRs means merchandisers and others businesses will see and hear them as a body.
Second, unity ceases to be a mere slogan or wish, but a reality. Independent retailers who unite can exercise their business clout to leverage textile suppliers and retailers on behalf of the IRs’ apparel-makers network.
Third, unity gives IRs a voice in local government.

The link above is the actual text. The five-point text below reflects my red highlights added for emphasis. Here is one portion I highlighted.

Some of the trends affecting retailers discussed in the report are:
1) the increasing amount and intensity of competition;
2) the impact of major demographic changes like the aging of America, the growth of the Hispanic population, and economic clout of the “Y Generation” born 1981-1995 as the largest consumer group in US history;
3) the backlash against chain expansion in smaller communities;
4) the impact of soaring healthcare costs on retail businesses; and
5) the ever-blurring delineations between market segments and buyer groups in the US.

1. The competition is not going away. It is not only from overseas, but across the street, across the street. Increasing sales revenue must come from something more than less expensive procurement. A retailer’s local, private apparel-makers network offers great promise for reducing procurement costs by minimizing or eliminating conventional inventory stockpiling practices.

2. The buyers represented by these demographic groups can best be reached through IE-Network members who themselves, as apparel-makers, both young and old, represent the community demographics. I have heard from so many young girls and young women a mere two, three years out of high school who have great desire and ideas for fashion. What snuffs their creativity is not knowing or being able to partner with independent retailers. Despite their youth many of them have old, conventional paradigms, “I-need-a-lot-of-money-to-start-my-business” mindsets toward getting into the apparel business.

3. Perhaps the best indicator of this backlash is WALMART has committed to taking on the “small business” look in local communities. Whether they achieve that is not so much the point as that they see the value of you of the independent small business.

4. I believe the allusion in this IRMA source is to BIG retail business. Nonetheless, contractors, in the truest sense of the word, represent a way for retailers to continue to build with their former employees Knowledge, Skills and Experience as independent contractors and eliminate healthcare costs.

5. This point is closely related to the first point on the demographics makeup of the community.

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