CIT: Retail best practices during the current economic rebound.
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I stopped by Thalia Street Surf Shop in Laguna Beach the other day to talk to owner Pam Cocores and Manager Casey Lewis about business.
Pam and Casey told me they decided to take a fresh approach to their merchandise mix after a tough summer, fall and holiday in 2008.
Thalia Street caters to tourists, and about 80 percent of its customers are from out of the area. Pam's stepson owns the nearby Thalia Surf Shop, which carries up and coming lines such as Ando & Friends and Seedling/Sprout.
In juniors/women's at Thalia Street, Pam and Casey said they are ordering less from the big juniors brands. Now that those brands are distributed nationally and internationally, tourists can buy the brands in their hometowns, Pam said. To freshen the mix, Thalia is bringing in newer, less distributed lines Honey and Quiksilver Women's for spring.
For men, Thalia caters to 35-to 60-year-olds and is desperately looking for a fresh brand that targets that consumer to supplement its Honolua and Quiksilver Men's lines.
Currently, they have all spring orders on hold except for Honey, Quiksilver Women and Honolua.
"If their product is compelling, we are ordering," Casey said. "We did spend a lot if we liked their stuff."
Casey said she is willing to bring in higher price point goods such as Quiksilver Women if the quality is there. But she has grown wary of brands charging a premium for goods when buttons are falling off shirts and rubber is wearing off wallets, she said.
"A lot of the brands need to work on their price points," Casey said.
Pam and Casey are crossing their fingers that they will see a fresh approach and new designs from the big brands at ASR.
To make more profit in the downturn, Pam and Casey are ordering less overall, however, and ramping up their private label production of Thalia Street T's, boardshorts and sweatshirts.
Pam is anxious for President Barack Obama to take office and get an economic stimulus package in place.
"We need economic stability soon," she said.
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