Q&A with Linda Romps, President
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store,?
Linda Romps: UP Bras That Fit is a retail/ DME combined specialty boutique that is nestled on the main street of Escanaba, MI. To best serve our customers, we carry several brands in a wide range of sizes for any budget. Primary brands carried include Wacoal, Goddess, Elomi, American Breast Care and Anita. In addition to retail, we offer private, personalized fittings for mastectomy products, including bras, breast forms, swimwear, hats and wigs, and post-op garments.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Linda: We offer a large selection of high quality products that are proven to perform well at a modest price. What truly sets us apart from competitors, however, is our dedication to our client. We have a genuine desire to help women, and this comes across in every aspect of our customer service. All our employees have medical backgrounds, are mature, and understand the plethora of challenges women face from puberty, pregnancy and motherhood, menopause, and end of life comfort. Our compassion and professionalism, along with top notch fitting education and experience, makes us the best at fulfilling our clients’ needs.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Linda: When considering a potential brand to carry in my store, I look for a balance of quality and cost. I expect consistency in the products I invest in; when quality control fails at the manufacturer level, it negatively impacts my business. Due to inconsistencies in design and fit, I have ceased to carry Carnival products.
I need to work with a knowledgeable sales representative- someone who can tell me not just WHY their product is superior, but WHY. Additionally, I look for brands that will help me successfully promote their merchandise by offsetting some of the cost of marketing. I want to work with a company that is willing to work together towards a mutually beneficial cause; if I succeed, so will they.
Ted: Describe the popular styles or trends in your store.
Linda: Living in a small rural town with limited choices, I find that my store is a welcome resource for those who don’t fit the S-M-L, 32-38 A-B-C-D core sizes found in big box stores. Many customers are excited to have the availability of something a bit more luxurious, and holidays bring an increase in gift certificate sales for those looking to give their loved ones that experience.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Linda: Regular prices for bras range from $45 to $70, while some items go on clearance for as low as $5! We carry bras with bands between 30-54 inches, in AA-N cups, ensuring satisfaction for a very diverse clientele.
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size?
Linda: Our average size is 38G.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Linda: The average customer spends about $100.00
Ted: Describe your customer.
Linda: We provide service to women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Men frequently purchase gift certificates for spouses or mothers.
Ted: What else can you tell us about your business?
Linda: DME is a very large part of my business, and the most challenging. We have endured cuts in reimbursements from insurances and sequestration, which have made it nearly impossible to provide care for mastectomy clients and still make a profit.
I am very troubled by the fact that lymphedema sleeves for women with breast cancer are not covered by Medicare, while senior men 65 and older experience the luxury of a fully covered ED machine that bears no medically necessary purpose. It is my mission to enrich the lives of those who come through my doors, by speaking up about injustices such as this. With the uncertainty of what lies ahead amidst a dramatically changing health care system, we hope to take the opportunity to make a positive change while we have the chance.
I have been a nurse for 32 years, and in that time have also owned four successful businesses, including UP Bras That Fit. With my extensive experience and knowledge, I hope not only for my business to continue to grow, but to use it as a platform to make a positive impact on our community.