GIVING THANKS: To play up its community-building approach to retail, Olive and Bette’s offered discounts to “Pink Friday” shoppers, who donated gently worn clothes to Housing Works.
About 150 shoppers in the company’s four stores pitched in and their clothing donations will be taken to the nonprofit’s Upper West Side location Monday. “There was so much going on this weekend and so much discounting that we really wanted to give back to our community,” said founder Stacey Pecor. “We thought Thanksgiving would be a great time to gather items and help them in their quest to stop homelessness and AIDS. We really believe in their mission and we love that it’s a New York city organization.”
In the months ahead, Olive and Bette’s will hold another clothing drive event for Housing Works, asking to shoppers to bring in a pair of jeans in good condition in exchange for a discount for a new pair of jeans.
“Customers want a unique experience. There is such fatigue in the marketplace with all this discounting. I had customers coming in all day Friday and Saturday saying, ‘Well this is 30 percent off on their web site. This is 30 percent off at Bloomingdale’s,'” Pecor said. “We were constantly price matching on new merchandise, but I don’t know what we’re doing to the better price business.”
Regardless, the specialty retailer “absolutely” honors others’ discounts without even looking it up. “In our business, the customer is always right. Maybe that’s why we’re one of the only independent retailers left,” she said, noting that her company acknowledges loyal customers’ birthdays, and gives them Thanksgiving and holiday gifts. Special events in their lives are also recognized, Pecor said noting Kristin Chenoweth recently opened “My Love Letter to Broadway” and another dedicated shopper Katherine Sullivan was promoted at Omni Corp. “We know when you get a promotion or a raise, or when your kids get into college. We’re really trying to cater to those best customers and recognize the important events in their lives,” Pecor said.
Her community of shoppers also turned up with home-baked cookies and Champagne at the Nov. 25 opening of Olive and Bette’s new concept store at 1156 Madison Avenue. “It was really something to see,” Pecor said of the unexpected hospitality. “A lot of the area businesses came in too to say congratulations.”
More minimal in its design, the 1,200-square-foot space offers less stockkeeping units albeit ones with higher price tags than in its other locations. The more sophisticated layout means there aren’t the retailer’s customary bright pink stripe walls. With shoppers looking for pricier items than what is offered in the other stores, the new one will feature such labels as Zadig et Voltaire, IRO, Equipment by Kate Moss, 360Cashmere, Jocelyn Fur and 27 Miles Malibu. The average price point for an item made in the past week increased by $65 compared to the same selling period last year, Pecor said. “She is willing to spend more for an item that she is not going to see anywhere else. That is much different from it was a year ago. She is not price resistant.”