by Antonio Lilliu
RAW REGRET: The retail case of Tussy Tip.
Actually, her shop was called "MY BEAUTIFUL SHOES". Tussy Tip was aware that was not a particularly impressive name for modern customers, but at the time of her mother it was supposed to sound like an invitation or a secret tip to be whispered at the ears of best friends: "Where did you find such wonderful shoes?" "I discovered them by MY BEAUTIFUL SHOES”…You know, the new store in front of the Caffé Central! " The girls of the village had made such a good propaganda that after few years all the fashionable women of the region were eager to begin the new season wearing brand new styles which Tussy’s mother had scouted at trade exhibitions in Paris, Dusseldorf, Florence and Milan.
At Mrs.Tip sr. times sales were booming. It must be said that Tussy’s mother was not spared with work, even Tussy as teen had to visit her in the store to have a simple chat. But the hard commitment of Mrs.Tip sr. was so generously rewarded with a reputation of real style-authority that she had to enlarge the store 3 times in a couple of years and to hire up to five full-time sales ladies.
Mrs.Tip sr. had left Tussy a well profitable shop. After retiring she was enjoying life in Tenerife between tea dances, glamourous beaches, mountain hiking and shopping-weekends in Marrakesh and Marbella, since even as a “mature lady” she hadn’t lost her passion for fashion and beautiful things. These were the topics of calls between mother and daughter, while store-matters were never discussed. “Too Luckily! “- Tussy thought: so, she could save her mother a rather bleak.
Since she took over the shop five years before the turnover was more than halved: Tussy had concluded a partnership with two shoe-makers’ leader brands who directly dealt deciding assortments, the regime and timing of re-orders, local marketing activities, PR, advertising and so on. This business decision was made mainly basing on personal considerations: in fact, she was not going to lead the same life-style of her mother, with 70 hours working weeks, spending weekend visiting trade-fairs or just scouting new trends & brands in fashion capitals abroad. Even her sales-ladies could no longer be scrambled with too much work: two of them had meanwhile retired, while she promised her mother to hold until the end the other three, a close-knit team, loyal to the store even to Death. It is true that Tussy had been very good in reducing expenses: less staff, no business trips, no direct marketing, less stock, more NOS-merchandise and better business conditions thanks to her two main partners. Unfortunately, compared to a cost reduction of 40%, turnover had fallen by more than 60% after the first business partner failed the year before, while the other had bet on a lower retail-price strategy to boost sales. The number of sold pieces actually increased, but not enough to make up for the loss in value. While aging most loyal customers had apparently lost the interest in fashion or simply disappeared. Certainly, young women use to buy elsewhere.
A few days earlier, while watering plants in front of the shop, she heard two young mothers with prams, one hurrying up the other who had stopped to watch the showcase: “Come on darling, don’t be silly! You won’t mean you’d buy shoes where my granny does!” And both had pulled straight.
Then a few weeks later a representative visited her to show the new shoes-collection to the vendors team, whose instinct trained during 30 years at the sales front she trusted blindly. Personally, Tussy was simply fascinated by those high-heeled pumps, the wooden plateau, embroideries and bright sommer colors, however she had noticed the elderly saleswomen examining with suspicion and skepticism the collection, until they eventually decreed that “those” were big city styles, obviously not fitting to their more practical oriented customers. Finally, last day while she was busy checking bills, she heard one of her salesladies recommending to a client, a wealthy lady looking for a pair of high-heeled sandals for her daughter's wedding, to turn to a competitor's store that opened some time before in the neighboring town "You must have a look in Mrs. Goldmine store, M’me. I know for sure she’s dealing with such fancy styles!”
It was at that point that Tussy had to admit, with raw regret, to be no more working for MY BEAUTIFUL SHOES but on behalf of the beautiful ones of her competitors!