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Thinking ahead

Michael Greene, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, January 1, 2001

Believe it or not, standing at the threshold of a fresh, ensuing year I started to think about the next Market. The next Market, Michael? You've got to be kidding! That's four months away in the breezy spring and here we are freezing our tootsies off in January. Get with it, kid!

Well, okay, okay. But am I really that bananas? After all, last year at this time we were sweating out Y2K and the millennium. A whole year of worrying and here I am just begging you to put up with me for a measly four months.

Come on gals and guys. Be kind to an old man, known internationally, as the 124-pound hulk. Sometimes I do come up with a fresh idea. Here is one:

As IBM used to advise us: Think ahead. You're all set to go to the market to look over new presentations, meet with manufacturers, attend a shmooze session or two on fresh marketing ideas and perhaps pick a new thought or two from some other experienced retailer. And even shaking hands with a creditperson to make sure that he or she knows that you're not merely a computer number but a real, live, breathing, working hard retailer. Try it. Even if you're past due on an invoice or two or three.

So we agree to thinking ahead slowly for four months instead of sweating it out for two weeks of preparation. Great! But you're really not set. What else is there, Ol' Swami?

You're missing one more aspect. You've got to be fully "open to buy." Fully open to buy? You must be fully nuts, Ol' Swami! Do you realize what we've got in stock in our warehouses after the Christmas "rush?" Do you realize that we even have stuff that came in too late for the holidays which hasn't been sorted out and revealed? Do you also realize that we're not made of unlimited cash and have to answer to the little gals and guys in the backroom with those yellow, legal pads?

Sure, seated at your l'il ol' desk, it's a cinch to yak your words of written advice, but for us in the front ranks of the daily battle, it's a real world out there. We luv ya, Michael, but p-l-e-e-z, have a heart!

Allow me to explain, kids. First, if I didn't know about all the juggling you do every day of the year I wouldn't bother talking to you. Secondly, when I type "open to buy," I don't infer that you are walking about with a stuffed wallet and pre-printed, OK'd confirmations. What I do mean is having an "open to buy" market mind-set. A mind-set that encourages the accepting of fresh products that stir the human imagination and fit your product staging.

Will it all be guaranteed to sell? Absolutely not. But guaranteed by your trade experience and track record to be a "now" contender...no matter your inventory level or how many "dead" numbers crowd your floor.

In short, it means two words: positive thinking. It means if cash and space are hard to come by (when aren't they?), start dumping the losers now (and I mean dump) instead of praying for "sale" miracles.

Now that I've noodjed you to death you've got four months to start and complete your open-to-buy mind-set instead of two weeks. Think on it ...even if you're wearing galoshes instead of white bucks! Thanks, again, for listening.

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