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  • Nick Monjo

Growth For Discount Fashion Warehouse

“Brick and mortar is not dead,” declared Jeff Bradshaw, co owner of the Discount Fashion Warehouse chain of off price stores in Ohio, who has announced an aggressive plan to open new locations. “Far from it!”

The latest store opened in Toledo, at 5253 Airport Highway, on November 22, 2021. As is typical for the discounter of a wide variety of women’s and men’s apparel, this store is about 15,000 square feet.

Prior to the Toledo store Discount Warehouse opened in Delaware, Ohio at 1000 Sunbury Road. That store was smaller than the average in the chain, at 11,640 square feet.

Based on the success of these recent store openings, Discount Fashion is now planning to add locations at a rate of at least four per year. “We can definitely do that comfortably.” And for the next couple of years the firm “will concentrate on opening in Ohio and surrounding midwest states, focusing first in Ohio, but open to deals anywhere that might make sense. We end up being an anchor store in some locations!”

While all 11 stores currently in the chain feature extensive parking and high traffic locations, none are in malls. “We just haven’t experimented with malls… yet,” Bradshaw explained, noting that in order to keep prices low, the company seeks below market rents. “We want to be deal makers and discounters even in real estate!”

A key strategy for the chain is to research new locations by first holding one or more three-day “pop up” sales in an area. For these, Discount Fashion will lease a large space, fill it with off price merchandise, promote the sale and then evaluate how much business results. Interestingly, the chain normally does relatively little advertising. “A major part of our business is word of mouth,” Bradshaw noted.

While the focus for this chain will always be on providing shoppers with the lowest possible prices on a long list of famous brands, the company has also recently been upgrading the look of its stores. “While initially we emphasized the ‘warehouse’ aspects of our locations, we have, lately, put an emphasis on better lighting, refinished floors, pleasing interior wall colors, and it has had a positive effect on sales,” Bradshaw stated. “Also better way-finder signage and point of sale signage have improved the customer experience.”

Another change at Discount Fashion Warehouse is that the company is actually scaling back on its online initiatives. While the firm was an early, major player in internet sales, and once did a big business on Ebay twenty years ago, it has cut back a recent online sales platform that it had launched last year. “Brick and mortar is hot. And the internet initiative was actually diverting our energies.”

“Post pandemic, the experts all say that brick and mortar sales growth will skyrocket. And many retailers have returned to opening stores. It appears that everyone is now enamored with brick and mortar, a category which some said was dead.”

“The trend of the future seems to be that shoppers look online but they come into the stores to buy. That is certainly what we have seen at Discount Fashion Warehouse: our sales are definitely running stronger than pre-pandemic.”

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