Sunday, February 17, 2013

Warehouse Sale - Year Two

It is fitting that the Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale has taken place the day before the Super Bowl over the last two years.  When people asked me to describe it this year the best I could come up with was "The Super Bowl of Fashion" (don't try to Trademark it...I'm already working on that.  Got to love having the PTO in your backyard.)

Planning begins in December for this annual event held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Old Town.  One of the first decisions I had to make after deciding to participate (Yes!) was the size space I would request.  Last year Zoe had a small space but this year I felt a large space would be the better choice.  So then all the planning for properly outfitting that large space goes into motion.

First up was ordering a second H-rack from the Furniture & Fixtures Warehouse in Richmond.  I didn't have the opportunity to make a trip there during their business hours so I had to have the H-rack shipped to the store.  Then I had to make sure I had all the right Size guides for the rack (I ordered the missing ones from Barr Display in Florida - they are the ones who have provided much of my fixtures at Zoe).  I ordered two Chinese screens from Amazon (Tara scouted these out for me) to use as "Dressing Rooms".  And I made sure we had plenty of credit card slips and receipt books.  I have to say, it was great to have been through it last year and to know so much better what to expect and what lessons to learn.

As time got closer to the sale, we had to start figuring out exactly what would be included on the sale.  Of course all of our Fall/Winter items that were on sale but did we have any remaining Spring/Summer items that should go?  Any accessories?  And is all of it going to fit in the large space?

One of the things that is important is determining the discount on each item.  We knew that we would have items on sale from 65 - 80% off their original retail prices.  But what about those items that may have been marked down 2 or 3 times?  Their tags really look confusing.  So we set up all the discounts in our point of sale system and printed brand new tags.  The new tags were printed with the original retail price and we marked the new Warehouse Sale price on each tag with Zoe's signature pink marker.  Makes it easy to see just what kind of deal you are getting at the sale.  Tara went through on Thursday afternoon and retagged every item to go to the sale.  That's a lot of work.

I was in the store on Friday, February 1st to prepare for and participate in the set-up.  I am always incredibly anxious before big events so I make lists.  With check boxes.  Because I feel better when I see things checked off.

You wouldn't think there would be that many things to consider for a one day sale, would you?  But it really is like opening a second Zoe for the day.

Tara had staged all of the clothing out into the store so that when Jim arrived after 3 pm on Friday afternoon, we wouldn't be pulling items out of the back.  As he and I were loading our cars, Alexandra arrived after school to help me go to the Masonic Memorial to set up.  We loaded the cars as best with could with the knowledge that Jim would need to unload and then come back to Zoe for more.  He always lectures me that he had better not have to bring back as much as he is taking!

We found our space right away (we were happy to be in the Upstairs Dining Room again) and immediately got started in configuring the space with the tables the way we wanted them.  Next comes set up on the H-racks - you want to get those perfectly spaced from the start as they are heavy when you have lots of clothes on them!  Alexandria and I were hard at work.

Alexandra sets up our sweater table. 

The young lady who does our social media set up this lovely scarf display on the accessories table.

After some strategizing, we figured out where to put the "Dressing Room"

Mirrors are a "must have" - we had two again this year!!

Setting up our "cash desk" - a card table from my house covered with a curtain from Target and my "coming soon" sign from the time I was preparing to open Zoe in Spring 2011!

Me discussing display strategies with Alexandra as we finalize set-up

We're done!  Game Faces On!  Ready to go home and "try" to get some rest.

Yes, well.  Good luck with the "rest" part.  It turned out that none of us slept well the night before.  In order to limit the number of cars in the parking lot, Jim and I picked up Tara and Alexandra the next morning.  Jim dropped us at the Memorial just at 7 am and we were faced with a small line already outside the door. 

It is never good to get in my way when I've got my "Game Face" on.  As we walked up to the door, I explained to those waiting in line that we were working the event.  They said "The door is locked."  Those who know me know that a locked door never deters me.  I marched right up to it a pressed the doorbell (probably more than once...) and could hear the bells clanging inside.  It sounded like a church bell!  Rapidly, the head of facilities for the Memorial came to the door and growled "Who rang the bell?"  I said "Me!  We need to get inside!"  He instantly changed his tone and let all of us in (and was frighteningly nice to me for the rest of the day!)

Workers for the other stores get a chance to check out the items from each store during this early period.  I'm too busy going into "game mode" to shop.  But I wasn't too busy to answer questions from a remote customer who was shopping the pictures we had put on Facebook!

Everyone loves a prompt response...even on sale day!

At 8 am, the local bloggers and the 4 lucky winners of early entry were allowed in.  And before you knew it, the regular shoppers, many who had been queued up for a couple of hours, were in!  Remember our pretty sweater table?

The picture below is how it looked about 5 minutes into the sale. 

It's hard when you are used to things looking nice!  Especially for the Zoe Girls!

We split up our duties.  I would handle all of the transactions, Alexandra would assist me in calling and bagging the items and Tara would manage the sales floor.  At one point, Tara found herself holding a large collection of clothing for an enthusiastic shopper.

Alexandra and I were busy ringing people up - as the sale went on, we had the happy problem of running out of receipts! 

Things do get pretty nutty during the sale - clothing ends up all over the place.  Tara had to even briefly moderate a small "disagreement" when one customer thought another was touching her stuff!

It is so much fun to meet new people and get to see friends and current Zoe customers!  We had a great mix of both on that day.  It always makes you feel good when you start to see those racks and tables thinning!  Our last customer purchased from us just after 4 pm.

Jim had brought my car to the parking lot a little after 3 pm and had neighbor Mike follow him over so he could go back home.  That way, when we closed, we could start packing up while Jim made his way back to the Memorial.  The pack up always goes so much faster that the set-up!  Especially when you have a lot less to pack up!

Tara and Alexandra and I (as well as Alexandra's family and a friend) started the pack up.  The great news was that we were able to get the return items in 2 cars with some room left to spare.  Janice had taken loving care of Zoe's real home on Union Street that day.  I had called to let her know we were on our way and to pull the rolling racks into the store so that we could hang up the clothes as they came in. 

The unload completed, Tara and I started ringing in the sales.  It is a tough process.  I do it manually because I'm always afraid the electronic card swipe on the iPhone/iPad won't work well (I had problems at another event) plus I have to relieve the inventory anyway.  We finally finished up at around 8 pm and I asked Tara to give me the total!  Great success and slightly over 50% better than the previous year!  Exhausted, we packed up and I drove Tara home.  We had some additional "clean-up" work to do at the store the next day, but it could wait.  Year Two was done and it was a success!

Next Up:  The Other Side


  1. So exciting to hear that this year's sale was such a success! Zoe has found her wings.

  2. Always happy when Zoe has a successful sale. Glad it went so well and more than happy to keep the home fires burning.