Sunday, March 07, 2010

Annals in the history of retailing: Filene's Basement

The idea for this blog entry came from the PR folks working with Filene's Basement. I have not shopped at Filene's recently but the folks there reached out to me with an upcoming sales tip and deal which I'm happy to pass this on to those readers who wish to take advantage (see details below). Certainly could be useful for someone buying his first suit. If there is sufficient interest, I will continue to pass on tips/deals for my readers. Feel free to post a comment if you have any thoughts about this.

Filenes March deal

Filene's is noteworthy in the history of retailing by providing an ingenious solution to the problem of excess and unsold inventory. They did so by innovating the back room and front room simultaneously. In other words they took excess stock and used it as the basis for a new front-of-the-shop, retail category and opportunity. Sold in a reverse auction format, the off-price merchandise is marked down automatically in 25% increments progressively over time.

This was an extension of the fixed price format introduced by the first modern department stores in the US and Europe circa 1850s. In the pre-department store era, prices were not fixed or displayed. Hence, the stores took out the constant haggling and negotiation around price, which was par for course in the retail consumer experience of the 19th century.

Additional links
- Video clip of the history of Filene's Basement

* Filene's Suit event (March 14th - 22nd): According to their email to me, "designer suits at $50 - $200 off their original department & specialty store prices. Every men’s suit will be on sale at 50 – 70% off, and we’re inviting a select group of shoppers to attend our Special Preview Week, from March 7th through the 13th, where you can have first dibs on the selection and get your suit custom-fitted!"

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