How to Get Your Product Into Retail Stores

Ricki Rubin has over ten years of buying experience for Gump’s, Wendy Foster, Restoration Hardware, and Macy’s. Today she’ll share with us her point of view on the buyer/seller relationship, and tips on getting your product into retail stores.

Hi, Ricki. Welcome. Ricki, what is your main responsibility as a buyer?

Ricki: My main responsibility is to establish a strong assortment that’s compelling, new, and fresh, according to open to buy guidelines and seasonal deadlines and requirements.

Rachel: What are open-to-buy guidelines? What does that mean?

Ricki: As a buyer, we plan fiscally by month. We plan our receipt flow, how much we’re going to spend. We plan how much we expect to do in sales, and how much we anticipate marking down, based on employee sales or trade discounts or markdown markdowns-when a product goes to clearance-because we ultimately, as buyers, manage a business. So it’s essentially a business plan, and it flows, and every month end, the numbers roll. If we yield higher sales, it affects do we bring in more receipts the next month. It really helps us as the matrix to build the business.

Rachel: If you’re going from month to month, and you’re looking at how much money you have to spend, how do you decide what you’re going to bring in?

Ricki: It all depends. Every store is different. If I think about a home store, and I think about my experiences at Restoration Hardware and Gump’s, it’s about a theme in the store. We have a set floor installation date. We work with our visual directors, and build a theme and an overall color scheme and story, that commences at a certain point in time and elapses for, usually, six weeks. And not every item in a store falls into a theme, but it’s really a map to create a point of view in the store and keep things consistent.

Rachel: Can you give an example of that? Is that seasonal… or holiday?

Ricki: For example, at Gump’s, we did this rising Jaipur theme in the store. It started in July, and it was all about India, and we had a certain color palette, a lot of jewel tones, a lot of golds. It was a great guideline to know what to look for. However, the store isn’t completely eccentric on that installation because there’s other things going on in this particular business and at Restoration Hardware.

That store, when I was there, we definitely followed along a rotation or a floor set. So may

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