Retail students gain valuable store insight
It was a perfect day Feb. 6 for retail students to drive the three-hour trip to Duluth, Minn. to visit Maurice’s corporate offices. Planned by the Stout Retail Association, eight women and the SRA advisor, Dr. Nancy Murray, toured the offices, which Barb Olson, Maurice’s New Store Recruiter, hosted for the women.
Starting out in Maurice’s lounge, lunch was provided and several employees from the corporate team introduced themselves and the department they worked for. Barb Olson, along with a recent University of Wisconsin–Stout retail graduate, Dyana Cottingham, were among the employees who presented themselves. After lunch, there was a short presentation, followed by a tour of the departments in the
The main home office building of Maurice’s corporate offices housed the first Maurice’s retail store, but has been replaced by the buying departments. This is where most of the tour took place, but it began in the second building where a mock store is set up for the Visual Merchandising department. The mock storeroom was presented by Matthew Birong, Visual Experience Manager, who gave a description of his position and his department’s position within the company. The visual team has decided that a remodel is in order for many of the stores with new store décor that would look more like a boutique then a regular store.
After the meeting with visual, there was a walk-through of the Wall of Fame and Shame, which displayed the best and the worst merchandise of the season for each department. The group was then taken into a room near the buying offices to speak with a team of buyers, the Fit department and the Quality Analysis department. Barb Olson who spoke about opportunities within the company through internships and recruiting.
Maurice’s is a small town specialty store that targets two types of markets. “Katie” is the younger, tween market who wants to feel more grown up while being herself. “Kate” is the older market for college students to adults who wants to feel and look younger while keeping her own style. Maurice’s decided to replace its menswear with women’s plus sizes 14 – 24. This has been a decision that changed the image of Maurice’s, but kept its brand loyalty with its customers. This is seen in the way that Maurice’s is still growing strong. It will be opening about 50 new stores in 2009.
This was an opportunity that the retail students thought was definitely worth experiencing. A trip like this is just part of the many activities that Stout Retail Association participates in. The SRA also has speakers come to meetings from retail companies to share their experiences, and has meetings to learn more about internships and study abroad opportunities. Stout Retail Association meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Room 210 of the Applied Arts building. It is a great way to meet other students in the retail major and helps students to get a better understanding of the retail world.
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