Q&A with judith fine, president
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your retail store in Northampton Massachusetts.
Judith Fine: Gazebo is located in a busy, vibrant, downtown in the western part of the state. We are on a central side street, which suits the air of intimacy and personalization that we offer. In 2008 we changed focus from being a complete lingerie shop to a more specialized focus of professionally fitting bras. We have all of our bras in show cases, so that the woman should not feel that she is responsible for identifying her size. We offer a limited selection of nightwear and playwear, a good assortment of underwear and daywear, and a high end selection of pleasure objects. Gazebo has two fitting rooms, each with two private try on areas, and there are couches and chairs for family, friends and partners to relax. We have three full time licensed post mastectomy fitters.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Judith: Customers come to us because we offer highly personalized service in an atmosphere that is friendly and well laid out. Our retail system, SVL, tracks every customer’s purchase, as well as other pertinent information, making it easy for our repeat customers, as well as marketing thru email. Gazebo is celebrating 35 years in business and we have been named The Best Place to Buy Lingerie in our valley every year for the past two decades! We also offer free customizing on all of our bras, which allows the uniqueness of the woman’s shape to feel special with the perfect fit! We do a huge business in special orders, so it is important that our vendors understand and are willing to ship small quantities.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Judith: We look for quality, fit and visual appeal. Ease of ordering, re-ordering and ease of returns is also important.
We carry better bras by Wacoal, Anita, Calida, On Gossamer, Betsy Johnson, Goddess, Elomi, Fantiasie, Freya, Huit, Panache, Montelle, Contourelle, Lunaire, Grenier and Vabien. We also carry Bravado, LaLeche, Elita, Timpa, Coobie, Bali, Playtex and Rhonda Shear. Some of our day wear, playwear, underwear and sleepwear offerings are from Mary Green, Arianne, Calida, Hanky Panky, Jockey, LELO, and Commando. Our post mastectomy products are with Amoena, ABC, Almost U, Trulife, Anita and Classique. Bra accessories and solutions are from BrazaBra and Fashion Forms. Shapewear is from Bodywrap. The companies we carry must ship well, take responsibility for their errors, offer attractive terms, and have a good customer service presence. They also need to offer newness, but not drop our number one styles!
Ted: What do companies do wrong in the intimate apparel industry?
Judith: Venders that insist on prepacks, or multiples do not understand how they are cutting their nose to spite their faces! I am not pleased with venders that sell on-line, as they cut into my business, but, at this point it is not the deciding factor. I would also appreciate venders knowing that an MSRP of keystone is no longer viable to do business! Calida and Montelle understand this the best! We will not do business with snooty venders.
Ted: Have you brought any new brands into your store recently?
Judith: We have recently started carrying Commando and Rhonda Shear. I usually look at a new line for 1-2 years before I order. I have my eye on 3 or 4 new lines, but will continue to watch them to see how they grow, what they offer and change before I bring them into Gazebo.
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Judith: Seamless, nude, contour bras are a must in every wardrobe. Plunges and push ups are popular, even above D cup! We are currently trending towards good support soft cups. So many women are full busted... but short, and the depth of the underwire aggravates their rib cage. LELO has allowed us to encourage a playful exploration to a woman’s sexual nature with a high quality, beautiful product.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Judith: Our average bra is $75., but we strive to carry a large selection in the $30-40. range as well. Our bra sizes are bands 28-56, our cups AA-M. Our daywear, sleepwear and underwear are P-S-M-L-R-V-Z...petite, small, medium, large, rubenesque, voluptuous and zaftig!
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size.
Judith: Hard to say. Women are getting broader across the back, but also tinier! I think that women know they do not have to “settle” on a “typical” size, and that companies now offer a fuller range, which Gazebo is willing to carry.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Juidth: Averages out to about $150.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Judith: We welcome everyone! Straight, lesbian, bi, cross, trans, young, old, in between. Our community is very diverse and we cater to that. We are thrilled that people come to us!
Ted: Do you have any other information you ish to share with our readers?
Judith: Thirty five years ago, Gazebo started with every item of lingerie made by me using silks and vintage laces. I also did non-traditional custom made wedding gowns. Over the decades, we have changed to respond to customer’s desires. We have used a version of the SVL retail computer system since the mid 90’s, and this has allowed us to view reports, statistics and hot and cold trends in a timely fashion. I am very active in the downtown community and we are very supportive to the many non-profits in our area. We have recently begun using tv for marketing and continue to use radio and print. We do a promotional e-newsletter every six weeks, and reward our repeat customers thru punch cards and other promotions. I am blessed with a great manager who has been with me for over 25 years, and my other business associates are hard working and loyal gems. Most of all, we make every effort to treat our Gazebo customers to a great experience!