Q&A with Muriel Robinson, Key Buyer.
Number of stores: 1
Location: Holland, MI.
Year opened: 2003
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Muriel Robinson: Muriel’s Intimate Apparel opened in downtown Holland on 11/1/2003. The business is in a one story Historical storefront of 1500 square feet. The building used to house an art gallery and has hardwood flooring, sandblasted brick walls, a high ceiling with fans and track lighting with spotlights. Products are display on both wall fixtures and free standing racks and cabinets, some of which are high-quality antiques. The storefront consists of a center double door and two large display windows. The store has a small seating area, with coffee and current reading material, for the convenience of anyone accompanying shoppers. The merchandise mix includes brand name bras and panties, body shapers, robes and nightwear, swimsuits, compression garments. In 2009, I discontinued carrying mastectomy products, due to new Medicare requirements that were not possible to be met by my facility. I do, however, continue to maintain my status as an ABC certified fitter.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Muriel: My customers shop with me because of my service and expertise in providing them with the correct size garments. When customers come to Muriel’s, they are actually served by Muriel. I put every bra customer through a movement and activity routine to see how the bra interacts with the customer. Many of my customers have returned with friends or relatives specifically to have them go through the exercise. I have refused to sell products that I believe are wrong for the customer and I will normally not sell more than one bra on the first visit. I also carry products and sizes that customers cannot obtain from the chain stores and can special order products from a wide number of suppliers. I also offer after-hours appointments and in-store group fittings and will do house-calls for local customers who are unable to come to the store.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Muriel:Bra brands – Wacoal, LeMystere, Grenier (Canadian), Elila and Pure Lime.
Panties brands - Wacoal, Hanky Panky and Cotn.
Camisoles – Arianne and Hanky Panky.
Nightwear and bedjackets – Paddi Murphy, Verena, Mary Green, DKNY and Pjams.
Wicking Products – Wild Bleu, GoodNighties and the new Knock Out panty line.
Maternity brands – Majamas and Anita.
Body Shaper brands – Sassybax, Yummie Tummie.
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Muriel:Popular styles include sports bras, wicking products for persons experiencing hot flashes, and products containing natural fibers, such as Peruvian cotton, silk and bamboo.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Muriel:My sizes include bras from 30AA to 54M and nightwear and shapers from x-small to 3x. Bra prices range from $20 to $95. Nightwear can go up to $180.
Ted: What is your average customer size?
Muriel:My average customer is 38-40 DD in bra size and medium in other apparel.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Muriel: My average customer spends between $60 and $120.
Ted: Describe your customer base.
Muriel: My customer base is females from mid 20’s to mid 80’s. It includes nursing mothers, professional women looking to present a desired image and women that need special support for physical activity. In addition, for local women who cannot physically come to my store, I will visit them at their homes for fittings and product presentations.
Ted: What other information would you like to share?
Muriel: In addition to apparel, I carry a variety of related products. For example I offer Forever New laundry wash for lingerie and linens, breast veils, slippers, Hollywood Fashion Tape.