A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
THE REFRESHINGLY LOW-KEY COBBS ARE PRIMED FOR A WINNING SEASON.
Byline: Georgia Lee
AmericasMart sales rep Ty Cobb’s great grandfather, who played minor league baseball with the original Ty Cobb, admired the legendary Georgia ballplayer so much that he named his son after him. Today, Cobb represents the third generation to carry the name.
“It’s a name that people tend to remember,” he said.
But the name is not the only thing buyers remember about Cobb, who along with wife and partner Mary own the multiline sportswear showroom Castles & Cobb in Suite 9N103. As part of a new breed of young sales reps at AmericasMart, they bring a fresh, low-key approach to a normally high-pressure business. Apparently, buyers have responded, as the three-year-old firm has generated double-digit increases each year. In January, typically a slow market month, sales increased 11 percent.
“Many reps are pushy and won’t let you out the door until they’ve tried to sell you everything they have, said Michael Stogner, co-owner, Tamary’s, a two-unit women’s specialty store in St. Simons Island, Ga. “But Castles & Cobb understands if something isn’t for us. They let us make our own decisions.”
“We try to give trend advice, but if customers are uneasy, we tell them it’s better to wait,” said Ty Cobb. “Everyone tries to be genuine and honest, even if they can’t answer every question. Running an ethical operation is the most important thing to us.”
The Cobbs service accounts by staying in touch, especially between markets. Mart shows yield 65 percent of the Cobbs’ business, with road work constituting 45 percent.
“Road work used to be unnecessary, but now every store can’t come to every market. With everything moving faster now, we have to support our accounts,” said Mary.
With around 500 accounts, the couple, along with Ty’s brother Jason Cobb and Whitney Dalton, cover the Southeast territory.
A small, four-line package reveals the showroom’s past, current and future directions.
The showroom’s bread-and-butter line, Michael Simon, is known for novelty sweaters, designed around themes such as holidays, that often become collectors’ items. An additional division of fine-gauge cotton knits has performed well for Florida stores.
Wholesale prices range from $28 for fine-gauge cottons to $88 for novelty looks.
Another knit line, White + Warren, offers a hip spin on luxury fabrics. At an average wholesale price of $99, the sweater-driven line introduced bottoms, pants and skirts this spring in nylon, with wool stretch groups arriving in time for fall.
Also sweater-driven, Ballinger Gold is a complete collection designed for everyday wear, with easy fit and lots of color. In sizes ranging from XS to XL, the line works for all ages and figure types, at an average wholesale price of $59.
Finally, the Cobbs carry the bridge collection Lafayette 148. Its classic styling and clean lines are updated with modern touches such as fur-trimmed sweaters and laser-cut pants.
While each line must have a niche, to avoid cannibalizing sales from another, the entire package targets the youth-minded customer. The direction mirrors the trend at retail, said Cobb.
“Stores are all updating to stay competitive,” he said. “We try to be modern, without being too far out or trendy.”