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Bernard Boutique Drapers December 1997

Shop Talk

Helene Rapaport of Bernard of Esher says a trip to New York can offer inspiration for your business.

It was a truly wonderful week for us last week. The highlight was winning the Best Designer Store in the Drapers Records Fashion Retail Awards, even though I was suffering from jet lag having just arrived back that morning from visiting my daughter in New York.

A second reason for being in Manhattan was to see the stores, and so, in the light of recent events, I feel it is a good time to share the experience. The magic of just being on Madison Avenue is enough to make the trip worthwhile – the sky is always blue and people seem so happy and positive. The whole place reeks of good taste, as do the stores.

Enormous amounts of money and energy are invested in shopfits: the style is always minimalist with an innovative twist to suit that particular brand. The product is displayed beautifully and is never over-merchandised.

This isn’t the first year I’ve brought home inspiration for my own shop. Real favourites are Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman and a small independent called Morgan Le Fay which stocks its own brand exclusively.

If asked to sum up the service I would classify it as an attitude. Positivity along with enthusiasm are the two words I’d use to describe the New Yorker’s approach to dealing with customers. And all the staff took great pride in what they did and genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs. They seemed to love the clothes they worked with, understood how to sell them and wanted their customers to walk out of the shop looking good.

For me, it is this kind of positive energy that makes  a store successful, takes it forward , and keeps it there.


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