Q&A with Marla Wink, president
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe what happened to your retail store in Beach Haven, New Jersey during hurricane Sandy last year.
Marla WInk: My store was flooded with 3 ft. of water. We prepared 3 days in advance trying to raise all the inventory at least 3 feet off the floor never thinking it would flood that high. After the storm the store needed to be gutted and the interior rebuilt including the walls, flooring, fixtures and electricity. I am open 9 months of the year, being primarily a summer seasonal store. So luckily the inventory was on the low side as it usually is by the end of October, when Sandy hit not much was lost in clothing and pajamas but about 5000 bras were lost to flooding. We spent the winter rebuilding the interior and the people at Anita, Panache, Wacoal and Eveden have been extra helpful while I replemished my stock. The hardest part was not knowing what the summer season of 2013 will bring. Many of the businesses have reopened but so many of the houses that were damaged are still waiting to be rebuilt, leaving a lack of availablity in rental and secondary beach homes.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Marla: Bamboo floor matted walls and hand carved teak dressing rooms give the store a tropical feel. The space is filled with bathing suits, casual summer dresses, cover ups, pajamas and of course bras! Lots of them! When our large double doors are open the sea breezes comes rolling through.
Ted: How did you receive your accreditation?
Marla: I received my acceditation through the Anita International Program and BOC. It didn’t seem enough to operate a bra-fitting store without serving the mastectomy customer. I had already been carrying the Anita line of bras for my customers and decided to continue with their quality for mastectomy. Their fabrics are amazingly soft and comfortable.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Marla: I look for complete size range in a brand. Band sizes of 28 and 30 are very important for us as are cup sizes FF, GG, HH and JJ. Fantasie, Freya, Elomi and Panache offer us a total size range for the hard to fit woman. I also carry b.temp’d, On Gassomer and Cleo for a young girl.
And then there is the bathing suit shopping! Finally my customers can feel pretty in a bathing suit without her breasts laying on her stomach. Bra-fitting bathing suits by Fantasie, Freya, Elomi, Panache, Anita and Curvy Kate do the trick for us!
I can’t pick anyone brand as outstanding since each company has its own fit and style. As we know all breasts are different so the need for a large selection of styles is important. The combination of all the bra companies that I offer somehow works to fit the size range of my customer.
Unfortunately due to the impact of hurricane Sandy I will not beable to introduce too many new companies to the mix this year. However, I am always doing research.
Besides bras and bathing suits, I also carry pajamas and PJ Salvage seems to be the popular brand. I find myself ordering most of their spring and summer collections. I love how many of their styles cross over to ready to wear.
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Marla: This year the trend in bathing suits for us is the bandeau. It’s terrific to see bra-sized bandeau bathing suits. We sell many contour bras to accomodate the casual T-shirt wearing lifestyle at the beach but more and more I am explaining and selling the 3 part bra as a better fit.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Marla: My price points range from $40.00 to $88.00 for bras and up to $200.00 for bathing suits with band sizes of 28 to 46 and cup sizes ranging AA thru KK.
Ted: What is your most popular size range?
Marla: The most popular size range being 32E or 32F.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Marla: A customer can spend $180.00 on average.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Marla: My customer is a woman who is either come to Long Beach Island for vacation or who owns a summer home and often does not have the time in her busy schedule at home to bra shop. Here at the beach she can shop in a relaxed atmosphere and knows of our reputation for selection and fit. Once she has shopped here she often returns with other family members. We often fit three generations of a family while they vaction together.