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Selling High-end Women’s Fashion

NAME: Mickey Rosmarin | AGE: 58 | HOMETOWN: Houston | QUALIFICATIONS: Has owned and operated Tootsies boutique for more than thirty years / Known as Houston’s shrewdest, hippest retailer / Revitalized cherished brands like Kork-Ease shoes and Waylande Gregory pottery / Opened a new Houston location of Tootsies in February

By April 2011Comments

Photograph by Jamie Conlan

• Luxury retailing is built upon strong personal relationships. Nothing is more rewarding than dressing four generations of a family. I love that shared history.

• Over the years, we have developed so many different kinds of customers. Some women don’t need to be sold to—or they don’t want to be sold to. They have a strong sense of security. Others need our advice. I believe in full disclosure, but if a customer loves something, I don’t want to argue. If I don’t like something and I have a relationship with the customer, I don’t need to say much. A lot goes without saying.

• Expensive clothes usually look expensive. “You get what you pay for” is as true for luxury apparel as it is for any other product.

• Many of our customers know what they want to wear; our job is to find it. Usually they’ve developed a personal style that they are comfortable with. But I’ve been in business for more than thirty years, and people change, bodies change, and fashions change. For some women, that’s hard to deal with. Others know how to reinvent themselves.

• Smart shopping takes time and should not be rushed. Customers can get talked into something because of that extra bit of salesmanship; persuasion will make them think it’s right and they get home and it’s not. Sometimes people aren’t careful, or they’re not being realistic. They think, “Sure, I’ll lose those five pounds.”

• There’s sexy and there’s alluring. I think after you reach the age of fifty, you’d rather look alluring than sexy.

• A good retailer has a keen business sense and also understands the creative side of merchandising. It takes both to make a store work. You also have to know how to multitask—everything from fixing the lights in the windows to doing whatever it takes to connect with the customer to making the most of social networking. You have to do your homework to succeed.

• Different stores appeal to different people for different reasons. A good store has a merchandising concept that’s done with conviction, consistency, and a strong point of view.

• The customer is always right, hypothetically. At least they have the privilege of always being right.

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