Buyers Find Bargains at Magic

LAS VEGAS — Retailers were on the lookout for deals — and found plenty of them — at the Magic show held here last week.

Many said 10 percent discounts on orders placed at the show had become the norm, both because of the bad economy and because of an overabundance of product that needed to move. As a result, more retailers were asking for price cuts.

Harbor Footwear Group offered sales on two Giorgio Brutini styles — a croc-print slip-on and a laceup for $30, rather than the usual $35 wholesale price.

“We are looking for ways to get customers excited,” said Barry Specht, marketing director for Harbor Footwear Group. “We have not typically offered these show specials before, but everyone’s looking for a deal, and we’re trying to respond to that. People have been conditioned to look for deals.”

Indeed, Chuck Jaeger, owner of Western Designers in Sedona, Ariz., said he thought vendors were selling product for 10 percent to 33 percent less than normal. “Sales are definitely better here [than in the past],” he said.

Pam Lahaye, owner of Apples Ltd., a small department store in Poplarville, Miss., said she knew Magic would be more discount-oriented this season even before she arrived.

“I got postcards in the mail saying that if I came in and brought the postcard, I could have 25 percent off,” she said. “I’ll go look, but that doesn’t necessarily sway me to buy.”

Even larger markdowns could be had for retailers seeking closeouts or fall merchandise. In fact, many vendors were showing just as much fall product during what has traditionally been a time for spring shopping.

“I’ve seen a lot of discounts,” said Taylor Demartino, buyer at Butch Hoffers in Beaumont, Texas. “There are better deals on what’s immediate [for shipping].”

At Donald J Pliner, many retailers were taking advantage of that brand’s open-stock program. “We’re selling a lot more fall product than in the past,” said Jay Clark, head of footwear at Donald J Pliner.

Red Tape EVP Steven Granat said his company was prepared for the late buyers. “We bought extra inventory for fill-ins and last-minute decisions,” said Granat. “In today’s market, you have to be a little proactive.”

At Project, which features contemporary brands, bargains were few and far between, but buyers still sought them out.

“It’s been a good show,” said Scott Strength, buyer for Journeys. “I haven’t seen any discounts, but maybe that’s because most of the vendors are people we’re already doing business with.”

David Zaken, owner of the David Z stores in New York, said he had not found as many deals at Project as he had at Magic, but would keep trying: “I’m always looking for discounts.”

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