Tips and Tricks: How to shop in a retail store for apparel development research

When I’m in a store, I listen to see which salesperson sounds smart, which is interested in fashion. Sometimes I ask for the store manager or assistant store manager. I will approach them with 2 or 3 garments over my arm, so they can see right away that I’m a serious buyer. I’ll ask something like “I kind of like these tops, but is there anything else selling well that I am missing? I don’t want to hear what they like personally. I need to know what the customer is responding to. I want to buy garments for styling inspiration that customers are actually buying. If the salesperson doesn’t understand what I am asking and shows me a style that I suspect she finds appealing, I’ll say, “You mean to say that this is your best selling skirt? They they might say, “Well no, this one is the one we sell the most.” That’s the style that I buy. I need to tell my clients that not only did this style look interesting, it was confirmed as a bestseller as well. Obviously, what I buy has to be in line with current trend forecasts as well as being a bestseller.

Another technique: Take 2 to 2 items to a salesperson and say, “I have a sister in California who has great taste, I need to send her a gift, which of these 3 do you sell the most of?” If I find that the salesperson is knowledgeable and helpful, I will continue, “Why is this selling do you think? Do customers like the color? The fit? The pattern?

Get to know the sales staff at different stores you are researching and frequent them on their days when they are working. Nordstrom’s is all about customer service, they love to share what is new and trendy. REI salespeople, might be a little bored too and will show you the hottest thing selling in hiking shorts and which fabric is best.

Contact Mariellen Auer at 704-236-0568 or for more tips and tricks.