SELLING SPECIALTY STORES

NEW YORK — A wide range of accessories executives gathered recently to talk about the art of selling to specialty stores.
The event, sponsored by the Accessories Council and held at the Doneger Group offices on April 11, featured Jerry Kohl, the owner and president of Brighton Accessories, who spoke about his firm’s experience selling to independent stores and boutiques.
Brighton, a division of Leegin Creative Leather Products, makes a variety of accessories, including belts, handbags, leather goods and jewelry. Based in City of Industry, Calif., the 28-year-old company had sales of about $120 million in 1999.
“People say there are so few stores to sell to today, but that is not true,” Kohl said. “Most people sell to specialty stores as an afterthought. We have found a different way of doing business. Our strategy is simple. We find where the stores are and we go visit them. We don’t have a showroom in New York and we don’t go to market.”
Kohl said his company sells to about 6,000 stores, all of them independent. Brighton does not sell on the Internet and has no plans to do so.
The company has 100 full-time sales people, all of whom visit the stores monthly.
“They go every month, take inventory and figure out what sells,” Kohl said. “Also, we do what big vendors do. We offer promotions and gifts with purchase.”
Among those participating in the discussion about specialty store selling at the well-attended event were executives from Echo Design, Hanover Accessories, Judith Jack, Sasha Handbags, Omega, Roma Industries, Carolee Handbags and Danskin.