A lot of people have a hard time understanding my day job & what I actually do. I currently work as an accessory buyer for a home furnishings retailer in CT. When I tell people this, I get a blank stare in return or people think the job is more glamorous than it actually is. So what does a buyer actually do?
Well let me preface this with a little bit of my background first. I went to college & got my degree in Fashion Merchandising, which is basically the “business” part of the fashion industry. I made my mind up that I wanted to be a buyer after my first year of school. It’s not creative, it’s not design. It’s understanding the math & analytics behind what you are buying. So how did I get into home furnishings? Well honestly, the fashion industry is super cut throat. After witnessing my friends get jobs in the industry straight out of college & hearing the horror stories, I made my mind up that I needed a plan B!
I started as an assistant buyer for Hallmark (yes the card & gift store) right out of college. It was the recession & there weren’t many options! From there I needed a change & wanted to go in a different direction. After searching a ton of job boards, I saw an opening for a position at my current company. I have always been interested in interior design & love home fashion. It was just the change I needed & I have been able to work my way up in the company in the seven years I’ve been there.
So what do I actually do?
I work hand in hand with the owners of the company to pick an assortment of home accessories (anything non-furniture that you can possibly buy for your home) to sell in our stores. Sounds fun right? Well it’s actually a ton of work & a ton of math! For instance, you need to keep in mind the cost of the item you are purchasing & decide what the perceived value of the piece is. Is it worth at least double of what you paid for the item? If not, then it’s probably not a good buy & you would most likely have to put it on sale to finally sell it, therefore losing out on a profit.
Once the initial assortments are bought for all locations, it’s then my job to enter all the information into our system about the items (costs, retails, dimension etc). This information is pertinent for our sales staff to actually sell this stuff. I analyze the sales on all our items to see if it’s selling, is it worth re-ordering or if we should put it on sale to get rid of it? Lots of math & lots of spreadsheets are poured over during this process.
As well as keeping track of all items on the store level, my department is in charge of our e-commerce business as well. Which is a whole other beast to tackle!!
Overall, it can be so rewarding when the pieces you selected sell out quickly in the stores.
Or if something that you took a risk on worked out in your favor. To me, it’s very validating that other people take interest & purchase the pieces I have selected for our stores . It’s like hey I actually have good taste & now these beautiful pieces are going to elevate the decor in someone’s home.
It can be frustrating sometimes having a millennial’s point of view, because that is not our target customer. Our store is a mix between traditional & modern, but extremely high end. Which let’s be honest, millennials are bargain shoppers & don’t necessarily spend that much money on home decor. We’d rather spend our money on experiences instead of material things (for the most part).
Hopefully this clears up some confusion as to what a buyer actually is. It’s not glamorous! I don’t get flown on private jets to Milan to see the latest home textiles (I wish!!) but it can be very fun & I’m lucky to work with a bunch of creative, inspirational people. This blog is my own way to bring some more creativity to my life & incorporate all the inspiring things I see on a daily basis. And honestly getting to “shop” for a living is one of the best things ever for this shopaholic & it’s even better that it’s not my money 🙂