Knowing each product also makes a difference. Every manufacturer has a different idea of what “large” really means, and not all materials fit the same. Styles that have a tailored fit will probably run a size smaller, as will styles made with non-elastic materials.
“Get that product in your hand. Play with the material: Stretch it out and see how long it is. Those are keys to ordering the right size,” Kunzman suggests.
RIDING VS. CASUAL
Riding gear will almost always outnumber casual apparel on a showroom floor. Part of that, Jones says, is because of what’s available from manufacturers. “We have relatively small amounts of non-safety clothing, which are usually T-shirts,” Jones notes. He suggests that a dealer should approach ordering the same way, reserving at least 70 percent of available floor space for riding gear.
However, Kunzman is quick to note that what works for men may not work for women. At Skip Fordyce, the gear/casual apparel split is “probably 60/40 for men; women is more 50/50,” she says. “We carry a lot more variety of fashion in actual clothing [for women]. Men come in and they go straight to get what they want. Women are going to look around and really shop; you’ve got to have more variety for women.”
While women may prefer more variety in casual apparel, just how much of a dealer’s stock should be female-oriented? Again, it comes down to knowing the customer base. “Different markets do better with women’s apparel than other markets,” Stuckey says. “I would defer to looking at the data and trying to get an idea of what segment of the customer database is female, and attempt to keep a similar ratio of inventory available in the showroom.”
Kunzman suggests increasing the women’s section as the holidays approach. “A lot of men will come in and buy the women’s stuff for Christmas,” she notes.
DEPTH OF SIZING TRUMPS VARIETY
Knowing what to stock and how much of it to have on hand is a careful balance between too much and not enough. “I would always recommend to a dealer that they minimize the variety of clothing in favor of depth of sizing,” Jones says.
That depth of sizing doesn’t have to be big, but it needs to be enough to fill the shelves. Stuckey notes that “you just can’t afford to be sloppy and carry ten of something, but at the same time if you don’t have a full selection — if your racks and grids aren’t full — it actually has a negative effect. It looks like a garage sale, or like you’re going out of business.” (Continued)