Monday, September 2, 2013


I have been known to be challenged to actually take a real day off.  But what if working during your day off is fun?  What if it involves shopping?  Is it really work?  I'll let you decide!

On Saturday, I decided to take a day to enjoy myself.  We won't talk about how late I slept or how many cups of coffee I drank when I got up.  A planned trip to the grocery store turned into a reconnaissance mission - visit some stores that I admired to learn a bit more about how they do things (and to see how I was treated as an average customer).

As a side note, I have to say I love the way some of Zoe's customers are dressed when they shop in my store.  I wish I could look like that when I am shopping.  But I don't.  Not ever.  Saturday's grocery store ensemble was a t-shirt, jeans, and sandals.  So that is how I went into these locally owned boutiques in another part of the DMV area.  And I was treated wonderfully.  As I would hope I would be!

There were several things I wanted to observe (in addition to my treatment as a customer).  I wanted to learn about their return policies.  I wanted to look at brands that I might be missing.  I wanted to observe store layouts.  I wanted to observe dressing rooms.  I wanted to observe sales.  And I wanted to observe traffic.  (And I wanted to shop!)

I had a really enjoyable afternoon (and I did eventually make it to the grocery store).  Some key take aways from the trip:

1) Return Policy - I changed Zoe's return policy today.  After almost 2-1/2 years, it was time.  I brought it more in line with similar boutiques.

2) Brands - I found two new brands that I want to pursue further for Zoe's customers.  Both of which I bought for myself and will wear for a while to see what I think.  (No worries - these boutiques are quite far enough away from the store so as to not be cannibalizing on the brands).

3) Store Layouts - I got some ideas on things I might change to make things more efficient.

4) Dressing Rooms - While I am still very partial to a door on the dressing room - I got two completely different perspectives on the use of mirrors, which I need to consider at Zoe.

5) Sales - The stores I visited were all having unique versions of Labor Day weekend sales.  Definitely some good ideas for the future.

6) Traffic -  You always want to get a feel for independent store traffic, even if it is on a holiday weekend.  I observed traffic while I was there and got the feedback I needed. I came away with a few purchases.  (Lines not available at Zoe, of course)!

See, working CAN be fun!  Not a bad Labor Day weekend at all.

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