Attendees at Tranoï were all about keeping their customers shopping.
Tranoï founders Armand and Martine Hadida could really talk business since the pair also own the L’Eclaireur stores including a new home-oriented one in Los Angeles.
While retail sales have been “up-and-down,” there seems to be a return to shopping especially in Paris, which lost some business from tourists in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. “People are more interested in finding something unusual and long-lasting, rather than have an abundance of more basic choices,” they said. “Everything has to be fast, fast, fast. Less is better,” Armand said.
With an assortment of hard-to-find labels such as Sara Melki, Goti, Jaga and others, the three-day Tranoïi at The Tunnel in Chelsea was scheduled to coincide with New York Fashion Week.
Ron French, owner of Rede in the Elmhurst section of Chicago, was on the hunt for unexpected silhouettes and hand-dyed yarns. In business for 12 years, the retailer said annual sales have grown 10 percent consecutively from one year to the next. He is constantly in touch with shoppers via social media, French said, “Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — whatever you need.”
“Business is great. We’re really a high-end boutique so our customers really haven’t been affected by any of the downturns. For us, people are always looking for something unique,” he said. “We do tons of trunk shows — as many as we can. Any time we want to introduce new designers or designers want to work with us, a trunk show is preferred.”
Surprised by the number of new designers that get into the business each season, he said, “With the expansion of these trade shows, it’s just becoming so enormous that it’s difficult for buyers to keep up.”
Grace Diodati, owner of TruGrace Fashion Lounge in Armonk, N.Y., said, “We’re in the store all the time and all our attention is on the customer. It’s really become a concierge business.”
Catering to city girls who have moved to the suburbs with their husbands and don’t have to work, the retailer said constant contact is a key part of her success. Depending on the customer, daily phone calls, near-constant texts and ordering from vendors with specific shoppers in mind have helped to boost sales more than 10 percent ahead of last year, Diodati said. Some customers like to be in touch all day long and others prefer one-a-day updates or just news about brand-new merchandise, she said. “I used to work at Neiman Marcus and people always called the top customers. I think the girl who comes into my store twice a week and buy $300 or $400 worth of merchandise is just important.” she said.
Norifmi Morii of Hankyu, a nine-store operation in Japan, said business has been steady across all categories for women and men. Maddy Cohen, owner of Maddys in Greendale, N.Y., also said her business has been solid, thanks largely to loyal shoppers who don’t need to work. BNDC, Jaga and Sara Jeans were some of the resources she planned to use. And Ann Ahn, who has had a store by the same name on Madison Avenue for more than 30 years, said shoppers are more inclined to spend $1,000 to $2,000 per visit compared to “easily” $3,000 to $5,000 four years ago. “Maybe it’s because people have so many clothes. They don’t need anything.”