I’m a fighter. Every morning I wake up, I put on my gloves and I get in the ring. But it’s not what you think. My ring is my work, my retail store, my small business. I have to fight everyday with new opponents to survive. This business isn’t for the weak and it’s not what it used to be. You survive by being a fighter and have other fighters fight with and for you. But sometimes you just have to throw in the towel on a fight. It’s not cowardly, it’s smart. For example, I have carried a certain big brand for around fifteen years now and we recently decided to part ways. This brand used to be a small family owned business with the designer hand making all of his pieces and leaving his family and small staff to sell it to world. For many years we had a great relationship with this designer and his team and it sold well. Everything was easy. Go to market, sit down and chat for a while, pick out what you needed to fill in and buy new pieces for the upcoming fall. But over the years things started to turn. I started to see some corporate changes coming about. I started feeling pressure to buy more. They went from a booth at a trade show to their own private ball room. Our meetings went from everyone greeting each other and sitting down in a relaxing, calm and non-rushed environment to being herded in like cattle, blowing through the collections and being shuffled out so the next retailer could come in and go through the same process. Maybe this works for department store buyers or the retailers that own massive stores and have to move from one appointment to the other because they have to buy so much but this doesn’t work for me. The small independent. And as this brand grows they’re only going to lose more of the people that made them who they are. In my conversation with the brand manager of the US it was stated that their new direction going forward with retailers is that they are expecting the retailers to buy in each year at six figures. What?!?! This is ludicrous unless you’re Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom or this is the only brand you carry in your store and have 5+ showcases full of their merchandise. Oh and if it even sells that well…..which it doesn’t. So the dynamics of this brand have changed. They went from loving the small independents to squeezing them out. That’s fine. They can go fight with the David Yurman’s and John Hardy’s of the department store world, which is what the brand manager actually told me they wanted to do. So you’re going to go step in to the ring with a bunch brands that have to mass produce product to fill a ton of real estate and for what? To be recognized as a “big brand”? To feel important? To push of ton of product? If you plan to produce that much merchandise then you certainly can’t claim that it’s all hand made in a small work shop and you certainly can’t claim you use only the best goods in your designs because that wouldn’t make sense. I’m sad to see the direction of this brand but sadly others are also following suit. Look, if my yearly investment isn’t enough for you anymore….that’s fine. There are other designers out there who are hungry and fighting. Who will take my investment in their designs and use it to pay bills, help put a kid through college, buy a booth a trade show to help get their name out there or to re-invest it in goods to make new designs with. I’d much rather work with these designers because they create high-end goods that you can’t find in every department store and strewn across the state in dozens of doors. Their success is your success so it’s a close relationship. These are the kind of folks I support rather than give my money to a big brand that will only turn around and use my investment to pay for their next marketing campaign that directs my customers to buy from their own website or from a big box store. My customers appreciate the uniqueness and fresh designs we carry in here. They like the fact that’s it’s not seen everywhere or they are chased by ads when surfing online. I’ll keep fighting for the small guys and I’ll look for the same in return. Have a great day.