The Buckle is making money?!

I could hardly believe what I was reading in Businessweek. The Buckle retail store is set to grow to 26%! That’s a huge deal considering competition, Pacific Sunwear closed 153 of their chain stores called “Demo”. This was a short article on how Buckle was able to make out with profits for 2008.  They broke it down to a number of very interesting factors:

1. They keep their inventory wide and shallow. They get new inventory EVERY SINGLE DAY, meaning that their target age group of 15-25 yr. olds won’t see their BFFs wearing the same cut/color as they’re sporting.

2. Seven of their eight executive staff initially started as sales clerks. Talk about knowing your market and customer base.

This is one of the most striking notes for me. I learned about the idea of widespread empathy in Wired to Care and it talks about understanding your core customer base and how if you have widespread empathy in a company it can create consensus and eliminate red tape. If everyone knows exactly who you’re targeting and what they want, there isn’t a reason for extra reports, statistics or brainstorming. You just go and do it. You’ve gone and saved yourself a bunch of time and thus can go do these projects better and faster than your competition.  I’m guessing that when these now-execs started out, they probably wore Buckle clothing while they hawked it out. They know what sells, and how it sells. It’s one of the best ways to build empathy…hire your customers, and that’s exactly what Buckle has done…not only hire them, but put them in charge.

3. They don’t really focus on the Buckle brand.
70% of the clothing isn’t Buckle, instead they stay on top of trends and the latest hot labels (just like their customers) and carry exclusive lines like Affliction Clothing and MEK Denim (I’ve never heard of either and that’s probably why I haven’t shopped at buckle in over 8 years).  I’ve compiled some pics of Affliction and MEK jeans, check them out above.

The article goes on to explain that another reason why Buckle and another teen-oriented reatil store–Aeropostale are doing well is because their main base is Gen Y. Since it’s our first recession we’re kind of just going with the flow and not freaking out about non-existenet 401Ks. Good Point. I’m no tween, but I identify with this mindset. I’m concerned that this recession may linger longer than it should, but I’m not ulimately as worried, as say, my parents. I feel optimistic that my (very existent) 401K will bounce back because I have about 3 decades to work on that.

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