Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weathering the Storm in it over yet?

 I am listening to "Saturday Night Fever" blasting my ears off..I am thinking back over the years I have been in Retail and all my experiences.  I have been a Couture Designer  and seamstress all my life, with  20 of those years working off my kitchen table with 3 sewing machines ready to roll.  My work day would start after dinner working into the night, often to 4 o'clock in the morning to meet deadlines. I would draw the pattern which I could only understand, lay the fabric on the kitchen table and cut away and put the pieces together of my newest creation.  Adding the fine finishing touches to complete the masterpiece I was creating took the longest, as everything had to be perfect.  Like Dior, my label would be the last item to be sewn on the garment with my hand finished logo. It was a done deal, but I felt proud of my accomplishment.

I did not open "Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique" until I was 52 years old. Many thought I was brave or crazy.  Our original location was at 121C Lightouse Avenue,Monterey,CA 93940, which was the last turnout coming from Pacific Grove towards Monterey approaching the tunnel. Yes, we had remarkable visability, but it never dawned on me or anyone else at that time it would be one of the most difficult locations.  Possibly finding the "Hope Diamond" would have been easier!  I can't  recall anything negative about the place itself. We gave the best "in store" fashion shows in town with beautiful Models, many I mentored into the Modeling Business. I also was recognized and honoured by my Mentors with the "Business Excellence Award", Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce  in 2006.  This was an award I did not expect to receive, as there were other businesses who were more deserving than I, an extremely humble to accept. This opportunity opened my eyes to the definition of what the term "Shop Local" really meant and means to me today.

Going on my 8th. year, 4 of it now in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, I am now operating a successfull Bridal Salon and have made it thru one of worst economic "recessions/depressions" in history.  Are we out of it yet...I thing we have to weather it out more.   During the last few years we have had to "rethink" what is working and not working for our businesses   from Advertising to Merchandising.  This meant looking at the overall picture and studying our customers need, wants, and the dollar amount they are willing to spend.    Although,this area has affluence, this doesn't mean our customers will spend impulsively.  With housing forclosures, and  job losses, this is still a working community.   Independently owned businesses failing to watch the trends,and change their ways have gone out of business.

These are the trends I see coming for a Small Business to thrive:

Take a look at your Inventory and see what has sold and the dollar amount spent per item. You may have to adjust and look at other Vendors that offer quality product that will sell in your demographics.  For example, if your local customers budget or a wedding dress is under $2,000., it would be foolish for you to bring in inventory that offers wedding dresses for $5,000.  Alterations are always going to be extra costs..I don't care what anyone says about this matter.  You have to pay the seamstress, don't you??  I never heard of anyone working for free, have you?

Social networking is becoming more powerful that ever.  Ask your customers how they are finding you.Most of mine have been through Google, my Website, and other Social Network sites, my blog, ect., and of course "word of mouth" referrals.  Most of these advertising tools are free or cost very little money..and network as much as you can, especially in circles that relate to your business.

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for SCORE Business Counselors.  This is a wonderful organization of retired business owners who have had years of expertise from CEO's of Fortune 500 Companies to Small Business  Owners.  They can give you free Consultations from establishing your Business Plan Goals, Marketing, Patents, Advertising, ect.  I consult with SCORE to this day and I cannot give a better recommendation about their organization. Visit their website at for more information.

One last thing, by shopping locally at an independently owned business, you are allowing this business to remain open.  These businesses offer the best  Customer Service available today by building relationships with their customers and this helps them understand their needs and wants. Not only offering better products that aren't mass produced, it helps build a stronger community.

Now..back to the Bridal business!

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