Navigating Dallas traffic, touching endless amounts of textures, color palettes galore, cultivating new vendor relationships and getting 20K steps a day… this is just scratching the surface of what a week at Dallas Market entails.
Nearly my whole life I have desired to experience market as a boutique owner. I have wanted to see the trends, feel the clothes, meet the vendors and be proud that I own a business. Finally, this dream came to fruition in January of 2021.
My mom and I loaded up and made the 7.5 hour drive from Missouri to Dallas. Being a former Dallas resident, this trip was nothing I hadn’t endured countless times. I felt so fortunate to have my mom by my side to encourage me. Thanks to Instagram, I had made a connection with another new online boutique owner in southern Missouri- London Johnson, owner of Copper Coins. London killed the Air BNB game and found the perfect little spot downtown with high ceilings, wood floors, large windows and a nice view of the city skyline. THANKS LONDON:)
I would definitely recommend your first time to market, reaching out to someone that has been before and knows the layout. The little things like knowing where to park, what door to enter, and where to check in make a huge difference. Thanks to London (again), she had previously worked on the vendor side and market so she had lots of tricks and tips! In exchange, I drove us through the chaotic downtown traffic to market every morning. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip was getting to spend time with another boutique owner!
After checking in, you will navigate the random hallways and escalators and then you will arrive on the floor with hundreds of vendors. Each vendor has there own little “store” set up. You can definitely pick up on the vibes of each vendor just by the manikins and color schemes. I found myself gravitating to neutral color palettes with pops of subtle prints and colors scattered throughout.
The first day, I tried to visit as many vendors as possible. This will definitely be the longest, most exhausting day. Instead of placing purchase orders on day one, I took pictures and notes of everything I was interested in. This way I could make sure I am not getting duplicates, over spending, and keeping my assortment to what in line with my vision for the upcoming season. As a new boutique owner, especially online, it is vital I keep my assortment and budget in check.
After leaving market, my mom and I cozied up on the couch of our Air BNB, ordered takeout, flipped on Gilmore Girls and I got to work! That night I arranged my pictures on my iPhone in folders by vendor. Then I made an Excel spreadsheet with pricing and styles. From there I was able to cutout similar items, evaluate pricing, and narrow down my assortment. My past experience as a buyer for 160+ stores truly helped me to feel confident with ends and outs of retail finances and assortments. One day I hope to past this knowledge and experience on to others.
After finalizing my assortment the night before, I made notes on exactly what I was going to purchase and in which order I wanted to visit those vendors. I started with the largest purchases first.
The first order on the second day was thrilling and terrifying all at once. Face-to-face transactions legitimize the amount of money you are spending vs online shopping.
There were definitely, a few styles I missed on day one that I added to my purchases. For this reason, it is important to make sure you keep some flexibility in your budget and leave a few extra dollars for those fill in pieces.
I had planned to go back to market for a third day, but honestly after two full days, I felt as though I had accomplished what I needed. It is important you utilize your time the first two days.
All in all, I was very pleased with my first experience. I will definitely go back and found it beneficial for the following reasons:
- Seeing overall market trends
- Cultivating vendor connections
- Making new boutique owner friends
- Becoming energized for the upcoming season
For anyone interested in going to market or opening there own business, please reach out! I would love to share the knowledge!