Letter from a Shopkeeper

This Little Shop Went to Market

WildBloom co-owner Thuy Pham on how the boutique snags its best brands.

By Thuy Pham November 6, 2013

A display from the October market in Dallas

"Where do you get your merchandise?" is a question we hear quite often at WildBloom, the Rice Village boutique I co-own and manage with my sister. Whether shoppers are curious about a brand or just plain curious, it's definitely a subject worthy of a little insight. So how and where do stores get merchandise to stock up every season? Store buyers attend what is known in the industry as "market," a three to four day exhibition of buyers and vendors or brand reps meeting to view the latest collections for the upcoming season. At WildBloom Boutique, we attend the larger markets in the West and East Coast twice a year and visit The World Trade Center in Dallas in between.

The planning process starts weeks, even months, before market. We research new and unique brands and reevaluate the ones we currently stock. Our goal is to find quality brands that are new and fresh to Houston. 

During the October market in Dallas, my sister and I walked through the World Trade Center, which covers a space roughly equivalent to 54 football fields. It was like shopping through the largest mall imaginable filled with everything from apparel, jewelry, accessories and shoes to home furnishings, gifts and much more. Acting as liaisons between buyers and designers are "showrooms" that represent brands and work with buyers to place orders. One of the oldest and largest such showrooms is the Ritz Group.

Visiting the Ritz Group

We were lucky enough to book our appointment with the Ritz Group around noon, and so were treated to lunch and in-house frappuccinos (yes, they make their own) while viewing collections for Spring 2014. During a typical showroom visit, we'll view everything carefully, considering the fit, style, color and feel of every piece in each collection. It's very easy to get carried away and become overwhelmed. If you've ever been guilty of  "impulse buying," imagine the temptation for us during market. We snap tons of photos and note our favorite styles so we can place orders after we've had time to review, edit and review again. Once color and quantity has been determined, orders are placed and production begins. The brands we work with are made-to-order so when a style sells out, it's out.

Budgeting and allocation is, of course, a whole different chapter--and a subject for another post. The next time you're out boutique-ing, just remember that everything you see is the final step in a long process of bringing Houstonians new styles and brands. 

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