MR. NICE GUY
FORGET THE QUICK SALE — REP RICK DRYSDALE ALWAYS LOOKS OUT FOR HIS RETAILERS.
Byline: Rusty Williamson
Rick Drysdale merchandises his junior and contemporary apparel showroom, #2G69-71 at the Mart, like a savvy retailer.
“I don’t carry any lines that compete in order to build multiple sales — stores could conceivably carry every line in my room, and they’d all be addressing a different need,” explained Drysdale, whose business in 2000 was up 35 percent over 1999.
“I continually edit and fine-tune my showroom so that stores can have new and better ways to build their businesses. When I look at a new line, I ask myself, ‘What kind of opportunity does it offer me and my retailers?’
“After stores get to know me, they realize that I’m not there to make a quick sale. It’s important for stores to trust me.
“The goal is to stay ahead of the curve and help my vendors and retailers create trends, not chase them,” he added. “When a trend is out there and everywhere, my stores have already done it. They want what’s next.”
For fall, Drysdale expects denim to make a strong comeback, especially stretch, novelty and fashion-forward denim dresses like those shown by Level 99, one of his hottest resources. “Dark indigo rinses and lightweight denim, especially 10 to 12 ounces, will be most important.”
His other lines include Jaloux, Portrait, Tom Tom, Moonfeather, Three B, and Urban Outfitters, which encompasses Bulldog, Cooperative and Free People.
Drysdale also expects sweater jackets to become more key in stores’ fall buys.
“Heavy outerwear won’t work in so many parts of the U.S. — it’s just too warm. So stores are now looking for lightweight and fun sweaters with a fashion edge. We did them a little bit for last fall, and they sold out as fast as they hit the stores. This year, vendors are onto it and are producing more to maximize the trend.”
Drysdale spends much of his time between markets on the road, visiting accounts who couldn’t make it to Dallas or calling on new stores.
He’s often called into play to help stores merchandise their sales floors.
“I only work two customers a day when I’m on the road, and sometimes only one,” explained Drysdale, who’s had his own showroom since 1994, but has a long history in the apparel industry.
“A typical store visit involves walking the floor to see what’s selling, and I make suggestions for maximizing the businesses. We then talk timing and look at trends that may be on the horizon, and how to present them to customers. Of course, we also view my lines, which are all item driven. I don’t do collections.”
Surprisingly, Drysdale said most stores don’t write orders the same day they’ve seen his lines on the road. And that’s OK with him.
“I want what’s best for my stores, because I want them to be a success and shop with me for years to come. So I provide them with lots of visuals and line sheets and urge them to think over the buy — and then call or fax me.”
“My approach to fashion is always evolving. It’s a continual refinement of my attempts to showcase the best junior and contemporary styles. I’m going to stay focused on what I do best: looking out for my customers.”