The September/October issue of Arrive magazine from Amtrak has an article called Fashion’s Makeover (page 34) by Michele Meyer. The article is about how the fashion industry has changed in light of the economic slump.
Meyer proposes that to survive in this new climate, apparel designers and merchants must rely on instinct, innovation, exclusivity, and the Internet.
Sounds like there’s some advice in here that charity auction committees would also be smart to follow.
Let’s dig deeper. In the “instinct’ category, Meyer writes the following:
Paring back not only helps stores but also helps shoppers. Scaled-down inventory offers a sharpened point of view and a sense of urgency: If there’s just one fabulous blouse in your size, it may be gone if you wait for a sale.
Then, a bit later…
Rather than risk closure, Manhattan’s Henri Bendel dropped clothing and hones to accessories, cosmetics, and gifts, its most lucrative items. “It was a smart move,” says John Mincarelli, fashion merchandising professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. “The American mentality of ‘grow, grow, grow’ failed.”
And sure enough, if you go to the Henri Bendel site, look at the homepage, and watch the short video, it’s ALL about accessories. Bye bye clothes.
So how does this relate to you?
1. Auctions are based on scarcity.
If you have too many items, your prices will fall and certainly your ROI (return on investment) will shrink. If you have a lot of competition for a few choice items, it will drive prices higher.
2. Pare down and focus on what is making you money.
What do your guests like? If your research shows that spa auction packages are always the top sellers, target spa auction packages. (Not all the *same* spa auction packages, mind you. Here’s a massage … there’s a mani/pedi … and over here we have a day-long, “I’ve died and gone to heaven” spa package.)
Or if your bidders consistently snap up restaurant packages, send your procurement team to restaurant after restaurant to develop great dining excursions. If no one ever buys the Starbucks coffee basket (as much as I might like that), don’t go seeking it as a donation (or at least not that coffee basket).
Remember: Fewer choice items that guests crave will be less work for your auction team, and yield more when the cash is counted.