DALLAS — Regional retailers were slightly more upbeat and willing to experiment with new resources at the Dallas Market Center’s trans-seasonal show June 2 to 5.

Many reported spring business has been ahead, as they continued to seek novelty, margin builders and newness for immediate delivery through November.

“Our comparable-store sales are up 11 percent year to date,” said veteran retailer Phillip Markey, who owns seven SoHo contemporary stores in Houston and two in Florida. “We try never to overbuy and to hold 10 percent back for a new direction or off-price merchandise, but for the first time I see a need for increases because you can’t be too tight. You really have to have something bold with initiative, like the Aztec tribal things have been well received.”

Patty Hoffpauir, owner of The Garden Room in Austin, said, “Spring was very good. We were up 15 percent. It’s not those figures from years past, but I don’t think it ever will be.”

David Weissman, senior vice president of sales at Nicole Miller, felt it was a stronger June show than in recent years.

“They’re buying November and December deliveries with confidence, and some stores are buying fall and some are filling in,” Weissman said. “It’s a wide spectrum because the boutiques have a different dynamic, and we’re not a cut-to-order house. We maintain inventory on our bestsellers.”

The June market “has become a valuable show as retailers continue to buy closer to need,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer at the Dallas Market Center. “The expanded temporaries offered a range of fresh resources and the Strut – Dallas Shoes exhibitors doubled their business from what they did at the premier show.”

Bettina Dryer, owner of Primrose contemporary boutique in Dallas, is branching into inexpensive fast fashion. She and her husband, Todd, bought the five-unit southern chain Accessory City, which they plan to rename Primrose Collection.

“We feel that is the direction,” said Dryer, who was shopping for fall. “It’s all about the look. The stores are all in small [cities], and we are bringing in clothing and remodeling them all and moving two of them.”

In contrast, trading up was the mantra for Jeff Johnson, owner of Nella in Oxford, Miss. A veteran of men’s retail, Johnson said his year-old women’s boutique is doing well with Kay Unger, Lilla P., Tracy Reese, Cynthia Steffe, Magaschoni and Virginia Taylor.

“We sell a ton of dresses in a small town,” Johnson said, noting business was driven by destination weddings, University of Mississippi events and the mothers of Ole Miss’ 16,000 students. “They buy a $400 dress and wear it that night. Novelty is really what sells. I’m planning an increase in dresses, holiday novelty items, bags and scarves, and we plan to roll out e-commerce.”


Key Trends:
• Ruffles and fur trims.
• Leather jackets.
• Shirts with flocking, embroidery, ruching, snap buttons.
• Tunic tops with drawstring waists.
• Flare jeans and colored denim.
• Hobo and fringe handbags.
• Byzantine- and Ottoman-empire jewelry.

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