Malik Tatum sorted a row of brightly colored swim trucks. It is something the sales associate does daily at Lady Outfitter on St. Simons Island.
Recently, Malik has focused on setting up Fourth of July themed arrangements including swim wear and Yeti stainless steel items, in anticipation of their annual holiday sale. It is a key opportunity for the business, one that has come to be the busiest times of the year.
Elizabeth Jordan, co-owner of Lady Outfitter on St. Simons Island and Gentlemen Outfitter in Brunswick, says that Independence Day brings in a flurry of shoppers as well as the season’s first significant mark downs.
“It is a big selling season for us. We always joke and said the occupancy doubles on the island on July Fourth, but that isn’t too far from the truth,” Jordan said.
“Every place is full. The second homers are here. The hotels are full. So people come here and they go to the beach ... then when they get tired of the heat — they go shopping.”
Jordan, who has been in business locally for more than 30 years, always looks forward to the occasion as a time to reconnect with customers and draw in new shoppers. Ideally, it allows her to do both, all the while moving out merchandise to make room for new items.
“Most of the brands we carry start shipping out their fall merchandise on July 1 or July 25. The sale helps us make room for fall,” she said.
Jordan’s experience plays a large role in how she selects items for the sale. She has come to understand that certain things move easier at different times.
“I mark down anything I don’t want see on Labor Day,” she said with a laugh. “But the first markdown is usually the best markdown. It’s better to sell something for 25 percent off on July Fourth than for 50 percent off on Labor Day.”
Of course, Labor Day which follows roughly six weeks later is another opportunity to utilize the power of the sale.
Jordan said it usually serves as a catalyst for establishing a rapport with customers and helps generate the sale of full-priced items as well.
“Sales do get people in the door ... but once they are here they often shop the regular priced merchandise, which is great,” Jordan noted.
Like Jordan Marti Tolleson, owner of Two Friends on St. Simons Island, is also preparing for a big sale ahead of the upcoming holiday.
“We actually do a little pre-Fourth of July sale before others do theirs. I have been working on that,” she said.
When it comes to selecting the items to mark down, Tolleson says she often scans both her clothing and decor inventory to determine what needs to move first.
“When I look at what I’m putting on sale, I look at the items that have been on floor for a while ... the things it’s time to move out. We have new stuff coming in all the time so a lot of it is just making room,” she said.
“I also look at things that have just one piece left. Those are usually hot items but it doesn’t make sense to have just one of something in the store. We don’t typically put things on sale — so we usually get a good response.”
That, she believes, is also connected to the way consumers shop.
Tolleson said sales allow customers to grab items when they find themselves with disposable cash, rather than following a specific seasonal pattern.
“Many other places in the country start thinking about back to school around July Fourth but it is so hot here that we don’t really do that. Plus people don’t really do big back to school shopping any more ... they might buy a pair of jeans or a couple of shirts but it isn’t the way it used to be,” she said.
For her pre-July Fourth sale, which will roll into the holiday itself, Tolleson is focusing her efforts more toward an online audience.
“It is always interesting. For this sale, we are taking items off the floor and putting them straight online for people to buy. I am going to do emails and social media on Tuesday to let everyone know that it is going on ... but our online sales have increased dramatically so we think it will be a good one.”