Up Close and Personal

A conversation with Cherie Alleyne, vice president and buyer for Blum’s Inc.

By Suzanne Bernhardt 

At The Swim Journal, we believe it’s helpful for our readers to hear what other successful retailers are doing. Many thanks to Cherie Alleyne, vice president and buyer for Blum’s Inc., for sharing her business insights.

TSJ: How many store locations do you have, and how long have you been in business?

ALLEYNE: We have two stores, one in Patchogue, N.Y., and one in Williamsville, N.Y. We are very proud to say that we just celebrated our 91st anniversary!

TSJ: What type of apparel and accessories do you sell?

ALLEYNE: We carry a very large selection of swimwear, specializing in separates and hard-to-fit cup sizes A-I and XS-32. We stock swimwear in the missy, contemporary, plus-size, girls, mastectomy and spa categories. The other types of merchandise that we sell include beachwear, cover-ups, resortwear, hats, bags, footwear, eyewear and jewelry. We also carry a large selection of bras, lingerie, bridal and loungewear.

TSJ: What are some of your keys to success in this highly competitive industry and volatile retail climate?

ALLEYNE: We are well known for our extensive selection and great customer service.

TSJ: What are some labels (including clothing and accessories) that perform very well in your store?

ALLEYNE: With regard to swimwear, Miraclesuit, Magicsuit, Sunsets, Becca, Bleu by Rod Beattie, Beach House, Tommy Bahama and La Blanca are all top performers in our stores. In terms of clothing, Veronica M and Elan do very well. Ipanema and Yellow Box are favorite shoe vendors, and Wacoal, Chantelle, Natori, Goddess and Curvy Couture are great bra vendors.

TSJ: You have been in business a long time, so you have seen many changes in this industry. What would you say is the current state of the industry?

ALLEYNE: To some extent the industry has gotten smaller with regards to reliable companies that have inventory on a constant basis. In the past you were able to receive reorders within 1 to 2 weeks. Now it takes 3 to 4 weeks and sometimes even longer. Also, because of the onset of the internet with so many companies popping up offering swimwear at discounted prices, customers are quick to order from them [instead of the retail store].

TSJ: Fashion shows are becoming more and more prevalent during Miami Swim Week. Do you attend any of the fashion shows?

Alleyne: No, I do not attend the fashion shows anymore. They are not that important to my buying decisions.

TSJ: What trade shows do you attend in Miami during Swim Week?

Alleyne: I usually only attend SwimShow. It is very disrupting to my day to have to leave one show to go to another. I would much prefer all of the shows to be under one roof.

TSJ: What sources influence your buying decisions?

ALLEYNE: Social media affects my buying decisions, especially as it relates to the contemporary customer who is very influenced by what celebrities are wearing and what is trending.

I also always refer to The Swim Journal before attending SwimShow, as it helps me identify new vendors and products, as well as provides information on what is happening and trending in the swim industry.