Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Be a Corky & Company Warehouse Sale VIP

The Corky & Company warehouse sale dates in Fall River, Massachusetts are posted at CorkySale.com. For the one percent of people that are still reading this post, I'll explain why we have a semi-annual warehouse sale and some tactical approaches to beat your enemy combatants at the sale.

If I start another business the one thing I could live without is inventory. The fashion business is like the Goldilocks story, but instead of porridge substitute inventory. At Corky we rarely have the right amount of inventory, we either have too much or barely enough. After 15 years wouldn't you figure we'd have the demand forecasting down cold, well we don't!

This week we started placing fabric and trim orders for coats that will be delivered to stores this fall. Between now, when we have only ten percent of our customer orders written, and the back to school shopping season a lot will happen. Store orders will be increased, decreased or canceled, suppliers will go out of business, fabrics will be rejected as inferior quality and need to be reproduced, shipments will be delayed in customs, dye lots won't match, the wrong color or styles will be cut and the correct ones will need to be re-cut, customers unfortunately will go out of business, some styles will blow out at retail and be reordered, others styles won't sell very well and the dog will eat my daughters homework.

What does this all mean? Simply at the end of every fashion season Corky has a mixture of extra styles, sizes and colors leftover. We could sell it to discounters, but that would be in direct competition to the loyal specialty stores that have kept us in business all these years. So twice a year for one week after we are done shipping product to retailers we open to the public for a warehouse sale.

From my perspective the sale serves two purposes, first it takes leftover inventory and puts cash in our checking account so we can pay our bills, and secondly it lets us see what consumers like. It's like having a week long marketing focus group. All Corky employees work the sale and listen; this style runs to small, this one to big, I like this color better than that color, why can't I find what I saw in the boutique - it looked like... Then we take the feedback and use it to influence the direction of the next years collection. So that's why we have the warehouse sale and now let me give some survival tips for the sale.

If you've ever attended the sale you know the early birds get the best selection, but they also must bear a brutal check-out line. For the people local enough to attend the sale let me clue you in on some key strategies for shopping the sale.

1) The ultimate is to earn VIP status. If you spend over $400 you'll be put on a VIP list for the next two sales and you'll be able to bring along a guess. A special invitation will arrive in the mail to let you know the date and time and you will need to bring the invitation to enter the sale. About 200 people are invited as opposed to the 15,000 that are invited to the public sale. Yes, you get some refreshments and some special attention, but more importantly, you get first pick of the merchandise! HINT #1: Shop with a friend and check out together to go over the $400. You'll only get one invitation, but one can come as the guest of the other.

2) Sign-up for the email list at CorkySale.com. There is an email only day sometime before the sale opens to the public. Hint#2: Sign up for the list and you'll be a step ahead of the public opening.

3) On the day the sale opens to the public, the doors sometimes open early in an effort to keep ahead of the impending check-out lines. Hint #3: Show up 15 minutes early and you may beat the rush.

4) The biggest issue people have is not finding a matching coat, hat and pair of mittens. Almost everybody charges in and grabs a half dozen coats and then goes searching for the matching hats and mittens. Hint #4) Go find a few matching hats and mittens and then circle back around and get the matching coat. You'll have better luck in completing the set.

5) Wait till the third day of the sale. You won't get the best selection, but you'll find something nice and leave with your sanity and morals intact. Hint #5) To avoid coat rage come on the third day.

To all our loyal warehouse sale customers thank you for your business and patience. I know the service at the sale may not be stellar, but please know everybody at Corky works their hardest to hold this event and you've certainly made it a great event. Every employee from design, production, customer service, distribution and
finance is on the floor or at the check out counter along with some great friends and family.

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