Midwestern retailers are playing it safe this market, gauging conservative to slightly lower open-to-buys. Aside from adopting a significantly choosier selection process, they plan to bulk up on tried-and-true vendors, rather than take risks with new lines.

Kellie Woods, owner, Honey Dew, Lincoln Park, Ill.

“I’ll be buying spring, summer and accessories. Some of my lines are Corey Lynn Calter, Allen B. and Chicago designer Diva Doll. In denim, I’m looking for one-of-a-kind things with faded rinses, stones or low-rise styles. I like Allen B., and Frankie B. is still selling.

“I have a large range of clientele, so I’ll write both minis and longer skirts.

“I won’t write too many prints, but I really like Diva Doll’s florals and stripes. Lace is really the thing now — Corey Lynn does some really nice looks. The peasant look is selling too, and I plan to move forward with it. Dresses are selling better than I expected for holiday. I think they’ll be just as big for spring and summer. Strapless and spaghetti straps do better than those with sleeves.”

Corey Weaver, owner, My Sisters & Me, Frankfort, Ill.

“I’m really going to look at the vendors that do well and buy more from them. Some are Me Collections, Equestrian, Laundry, Weston Wear and Yansi Fugel. Joseph A. and Michael Simon are great for knits. For blouses, I buy Rayure.

“I’ll write brights for summer from turqs to chartreuse to yellows. We’re more contemporary than preppy. Nautical looks don’t do well, but I think black and white will be big again in colorblocking and stripes. I’ll also buy bright animal prints, floral and jungle prints, light yarns, beading and crystals.

“I plan to move forward with cropped pants. I’ve never done shorts, but will try them in mid-thigh lengths. Dresses are strong from Laundry and Weston Wear. Strapless, off-the-shoulder, spaghetti strap and prints are important.

“Accessories are selling well. I need fun, bright, unique handbags like those from Louann Finn, who makes UltraSuede looks with floral patterns. I also carry San Francisco designer Angela Frascone’s nautical themes and animal and geometric prints.”

Ellen Stirling, owner, The Lake Forest Shop, Lake Forest, Ill.

“We’re definitely a color store. I need to know the fashion colors, in addition to buying a variety of brights, pastels, and black-and-white stories.

“I always need novelty pants. We write Cambio and Gunex. We’re also going to try to sell some bermuda shorts this year. We’ll definitely write prints in bottoms and tops, but be extremely choosy. I saw some great Marimekko looks.

“I do a variety of sweaters from layering pieces to Essendi’s. Shu + Shu is another good line. I’ll write some novelty cardigans and pullovers.

“In skirts, I’ll write a bunch of lengths. A great line for us because it offers such a broad variety is Lida Baday from Canada. They do great matte jersey skirts from 16 inches to ankle length.”