Q&A with Kyle Goodwin, president
Ted Vayos: Please describe your store for our readers?
Kyle Goodwin: After designing bras for corporate businesses for over 23 years and after the last company was bought and closed, I decided to leave corporate life and get much closer to the ultimate consumer. In 1990 I opened my own retail boutique, Lady K Lingerie. I knew I wanted to make the shopping experience for lingerie and having bra fittings enjoyable and successful for all women including those having had breast surgery. Research began. After geographic and demographic studies, I decided on Denville, New Jersey, “The Hub of Morris County”. It is at the intersection of many highways and major thoroughfares allowing for easy access from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York State. Denville has a hospital and many doctors involved with breast cancer. The entire area is moderate to upper income. Lady K is located on the corner of Broadway and Center Street in the middle of the downtown shopping and dining area. The single level 1200 square foot store is handicapped and baby carriage accessible. When the store was opened there were no upscale malls in the area. We sold many expensive peignoirs, gowns, robes and daywear. As time went by The Mall at Short Hills was completed, taking away much of our higher end business. At the same time, retirement communities opened in Denville and adjoining towns. I broadened our selection to accommodate everyone’s needs and price ranges. We also sell sleepwear, robes, shapewear, loungewear, hosiery and ready to wear in a broad range of sizes as well as numerous laundry and accessory items. Our mastectomy business is one of the most important parts of Lady K. We believe that all women who have had surgery should be able to be expertly fitted and purchase the products they need in a comfortable, caring environment. I am an ABC certified fitter and Lady K Lingerie is an ABC accredited facility. Our customers appreciate being able to come to a lingerie boutique rather than go to a medical environment.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Kyle: Personal service makes Lady K special. Three trained fitters work expertly and patiently with each customer to get a comfortable perfectly fit bra or shaper in her price range. If we don’t have one available, we research and specially order alternatives for her to try. The same personal service is available for all of our products and to help with gift purchases.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Kyle: When choosing products for the store, I look for fit, comfort and overall quality shipped in a timely manner, with good customer service and margins high enough to cover shipping. I tend not to buy new bra styles or lines until they have established good sell through and repeat purchases. The majority of our vendors have been in business for many years and remain successful. I trust them and can predict fit and quality. Top brands include Wacoal, Amoena, the whole Eveden group, Hanky Panky, Vanity Fair, Playtex, Fit Fully Yours and all Komar sleepwear including the Carole Hochman brands. Komar has outstanding customer service and a very broad range of products. I recently brought in Natori bras and panties. After only a couple of months they are becoming very important.
Ted: Describe the popular styles or trends in your store.
Kyle: The most popular bras are skintone and seamless with an increasing majority having spacer or foam lining. It’s all about nothing showing, even in panties and slimmers. Although cotton and cotton blends have always been best sellers in sleepwear, there is an increasing demand for modal/spandex and rayon/spandex. These knit blends are in some cases replacing woven charmeuse. Everything is comfort, softness and drape without forgetting pretty and feminine.
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size? Describe your price points and size ranges.
Kyle: It’s hard to determine a typical or average Lady K customer. My customers range in age from 12 to 102. Their bras are between AA and N cups with 30 to 54 inch bands. Prices are from $32 to $80. The average cup size is G with average band sizes 38 or 40. Medium and large are the most popular sizes in almost everything else.
Ted: What does your average customer spend per visit to your store?
Kyle: The average purchase is about $100, but ranges from $7.95 to $795.00.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Kyle: In addition to girls and women ranging from middle school to well into retirement who buy for themselves, many women, children and men buy gifts. Our free gift wrap is special and identifiable. It’s very nice to get a gift from Lady K.
Ted: What has impacted your business the most over the past year?
Kyle: Weather and the internet have had the biggest impact on business over the last year. Bad weather in January and February caused people to hibernate. Business for those months was bad this year and last year. The good news is that pent up spending made April and May very busy. Internet shopping has been all the rage, sometimes aided by our fittings and purchases made here. I know I’ve lost some dollars, but maybe the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way. Women are beginning to realize that there is no such thing as being “a size” and that it varies from style to style. They are also realizing that measurements only tell you where to start and that there is no easy way out in finding a comfortable bra that fits. I’ve had numerous internet shoppers come in so we can evaluate the fit or to complain about defects in their web purchases. I explain that we are only responsible for what we sell and that we would not sell them a poorly fit bra and certainly not a defective one. Many of them have purchased from us and returned what they bought on line. After all this time, I’m still happy with my decision to open my own boutique. I still love going to work to help people solve problems and to feel good about themselves. I get lots of hugs. By working so closely with the ultimate consumer and listening to them, I’ve been able to make changes in the business to keep up with changes in the business environment. In 25 years Lady K Lingerie has overcome three recessions, two major hurricanes, a flood and a devastating ice storm to remain a successful business.