Valley store owners see millennials shifting retail strategies

A view up resale store, Uptown Cheapskate. (submitted photo)

Tiffany Harrison, the owner of two Scottsdale storefronts, and many of her colleagues across the Valley say they are experiencing a shift in the way consumers ages 18-25 are purchasing their clothing.

For millennials looking for trendy fashion at affordable prices, online bargains attract like bees to honey.

Add in loyalty rewards, same-day, or overnight shipping, and it’s not a surprise that big retailers such as JC Penney and Macy’s are closing locations nationwide.

Millennials find the deals they crave far from the big department stores or fancy boutiques that line a traditional mall. Many also are turning toward resell as part of their bargain-savvy shopping habits, according to a press release.

“Millennials are very trendy and up to date with what’s popular and what’s just coming out. They’re always looking for what’s the next big thing,” said Ms. Harrison, who owns a Kid to Kid and an Uptown Cheapskate, both in Scottsdale.

“A lot of our customers also talk about the environmental side of resell, as well as the economic side. Millennials are very money conscious of where they’re spending.”

Clothing that doesn’t meet resell quality at Uptown Cheapskate or Kid to Kid is donated to a variety of charitable organizations within the community. Each of the three Valley Uptown Cheapskates — Peoria, Chandler, and Scottsdale — and the six Kid to Kid shops — Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Chandler and Gilbert — have relationships with individual charities that support youth, families, and other causes, the press release stated.

“Macy’s is closing 60 some stores. Sports Authority went out of business. Sports Chalet has gone out of business,” said Chris Fay, owner of a Kid to Kid resale shop at Tatum and Thunderbird in Phoenix, in a press release.

“Online shopping has had an impact. Also, people have become more educated about (finding deals). It’s been a cultural shift and it has brought them to our shop.”

An example of an Instagram post used for marketing the store’s newest items. (submitted photo)

Ms. Harrison, who began working at her Kid to Kid location after school when she was 18, said social media is an important part of her strategy. She said retailers must recognize the attachment millennials have for social media and integrate that into how their shops are run.

For example, she uses Instagram daily to post about the newest items they are offering at her stores.

“We use Instagram, and we really connect with them there. They are getting product updates on a daily basis,” Ms. Harrison said in the press release. “If we get something that is really hot and we post on Instagram, then we get calls all day about that item and usually sell out.”

Ms. Harrison bought the Kid to Kid location where she started working after for her own in 2008. She expanded with her Uptown Cheapskate location in August 2014.

Environmentally conscientious frugal shoppers between the ages of about 18 and 24 are redrawing the retail landscape. Mr. Fay said retailers who want to attract millennial shoppers must meet their high expectations for exceptional customer service, social media interaction, loyalty rewards and competitive pricing for quality merchandise.

Customers get the tax credit form for charitable donations at the store, making selling and donating a one-stop operation.

This makes the shops both environmentally friendly by keeping used clothing out of landfills and socially conscientious by helping deserving charities. In North America, consumers are buying — and getting rid of — five times as much clothing as 25 years ago, reports Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Portfolio, 2013).

Additionally, 85 percent of apparel ends up in a landfill — that’s more than 10.5 million tons of clothing, the press release stated.

Uptown Cheapskate and Kid to Kid resale shops offer consumers an attractive alternative to purchasing new clothing that will eventually end in a landfill.

“We definitely see millennials in our store; they’re our core customer. The millennials who shop in our store are more environmentally conscientious,” Brenda Spezzacatena, owner up Chandler’s Uptown Cheapskate said in the press release.

“They want to bring in their items in to sell because they need the money, or because they want to get new clothes. They want to shop resell. My entire staff is made up of millennials.”

Uptown Cheapskate and Kid to Kid stores are part of Basecamp Franchising, which was founded in 1992 and now has more than 65 Uptown Cheapskate stores and more than 100 Kid to Kid stores in 17 states. The upscale nature of these stores sets them apart from thrift stores, says Ms. Spezzacatena.

“The back part of our store is where we have the hot items, the ones millennials are looking for. We keep all the better name brands in one place,” she said. “We colorize, and separate by size. When you walk in, we look like a store from the mall, like a trendy mall store and that appeals to them as well.”

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