SPRING IS IN THE AIR
THE U.S. ECONOMY’S IMMEDIATE FUTURE MAY APPEAR DIM, BUT BUYERS HOPE TO LIVEN THINGS UP A LITTLE BIT WITH NOVELTY ITEMS AND BRIGHT COLORS.

Byline: Cami Alexander

Retailers are only too aware that when the spring merchandise they order at the October market arrives at their stores, the holidays will be over, and wallets may be light. Who really knows when the stock market will recover and jobs will be more secure? Recognizing that the coming months are going to be tough ones in retail, buyers are hunting for hot, new items to excite their customers into buying. And of course, a few last-minute holiday pieces.

Nan Napier, owner, Tres Mariposas, El Paso, Tex.:
“We’ll be looking for January deliveries, because that’s always a tough time to find merchandise. It seems like the manufacturers don’t have much then. And we’ll be doing some of our major spring lines. I sure hope some shorts show up because I’m always looking for shorts. But I’m hearing most of the manufacturers say that they’re probably going to stay with cropped pants for a long time — or that they feel like the customer is — so I’ll be looking for some signals about that.
“Another question I have is, there is a lot of great denim out there, but typically the Mexican customer doesn’t like distressed or washed denim, so I want to get a feel for how deep to go into that type of thing. I don’t know if the Mexican nationals will move to that or stay away. I talk to my customers to see what they like and test the merchandise a little bit.
“Finally, dresses are still tough for anything but cocktail, so I’ll be looking for items that maybe we can build on in dresses. Something between day and cocktail.”

Vickey Hoffman, owner, J. Hoffman, Lubbock, Tex.:
“This market, I’ll definitely be looking for spring. We’ll be looking for hot, new, hip fashion items. Our customers expect new and different things from us. They know we carry our basics — that we’ll have our basics to build on. And then they want to see fashion. Our customer is very knowledgeable about fashion. They come in, and they want new and exciting accent pieces to build on their basics. They’re into fashion, and they know what’s happening through different media — magazines, TV, etc. They will be looking to us to bring that back into our store, whether it be the same fashion, or a toned-down fashion they can wear in their lifestyle.
“And even though it’s October, we’ll look for the last-minute something that’s just hit the market that we feel like we can bring in for Christmas, whether it be a new early cruise line, or clothing items like leather jackets and accessories — anything that we see changing there.

Wynn Develle, owner, Wynn’s, La Canada, Calif.:
“I’m going to be starting my spring buy — mostly in dresses and social wear, because New York people come to our store in the spring. I’ll be looking for eveningwear, special-event shopping, mother-of-the-bride, as well as new looks in better sportswear. “I’m also going to be looking for novelty items such as novelty purses or new jewelry. I won’t know what colors until I see all my trend reports.
“I’ll need a few Christmas fill-ins, but not many. I place my paper early, because the good manufacturers get sold out. I just like to have it done early. Then I can tell my customers what I got and whet their appetite. We put their names on the orders as we’re purchasing. When the pink copies come up, their names are on them, and then we call them.
“I’m not buying as much as I used to buy this year. My inventory is tighter. I’ve been here 11 years, and I have a really good stable business. Even though sales are softer this year, my profits are up because I’ve watched my inventory.
“As for accessories, I’ll be looking for more from a new little designer we found at the Apparel Mart in Dallas — a new purse line from Houston, Elaine Turner.”

Sue Bearrie, owner, Sue Bearrie, Southlake, Tex.:
“I’ll be looking for spring things+bright colors+shorts. I’ll be looking for a lot of casuals. “But really, I’ll need a lot of shorts, and a lot of different bright T-shirts and stuff like that. And capri pants. You know what I think about capri pants? The baby boomers love them because they’re all getting a little bit older, and they want to look good. Even girls who work out now in their 40s and 50s don’t like to wear shorts. I think we’ll be with capris for a while. I think they’ll be a little bit longer — I don’t think they’ll be as short as last year, but I’ll have to go see to be sure.
“I’ll also be looking for a lot of cute jewelry. I hope they’ll have some loop earrings; I think they’re real cute with summer things.
“I usually buy a couple of styles of sandals. I don’t buy a lot of shoes, but I buy some sandals for summer. I’ll be doing most of my summer buying too.
“I know sundresses will be good, and my little cotton pajamas from P.J. Salvage. I’ll also probably buy lots of sportswear from Renfrew and my dressy suits from Zelda. I also do really well in the summertime with Victoria Pappas. That’s a great line.”

Calli Saitowicz, owner, BB1 Classic, Houston:
“In October, I definitely will be looking at spring. Whatever is exciting. I think it’s going to be a little tougher, but if you have excitement and always a reason for them to buy something, they will buy. I’m going to be shopping with a different eye — not frenzied like before. I’ll be looking for investment clothing. You know, something that’s going to make sense for her dollar. These days, she’s spending her dollar not in a frivolous way — not a one-minute fashion statement.
“Then I will be looking for anything exciting that I can put out for the holidays. Anything that should be happening that might be new. Any item that will help complete the holiday shopping. I probably will know a lot better when I get there, because I buy very close to the time. I’m keeping my inventory a lot slimmer, a lot closer to the moment.
“As for business, I think it will be a good fourth quarter. I definitely think it’s going to be brighter. I think the holidays are going to be brighter. I feel real good about it.”

Betty Thrasher, owner, The Rosebud, Temple, Tex.:
“We’ve done some early spring and resort buying already, but we’ll be looking more deeply into spring and early summer fashions.
“We’re going to be looking for lots of color, of course, because Texas likes color. We’ll probably be looking for silks and linens and blends. We do a little cool wool for the season, but not a lot. And we like a lot of beautiful ivory and off-white sports wear, so you can team up your colored jackets. Wonderful silk sweaters and chiffon scarves to create some exciting looks are great, too.

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