Clay Cavender ('91)
Your definition of success:
Starting a store from dirt, building it, stocking it with merchandise, hiring people, watching the customers flow in to shop — watching the business decisions you make develop into a profitable business is success at its finest.
Advice for students on today's business environment:
When you come out of college, be prepared within your chosen field. There's a creative side in this business from the design aspect, but I think most of the jobs from a merchandising degree will revolve around merchandise planning. Understanding retail math and acquiring computer merchandise planning skills to plan for a multi-store retail chain is extremely important.
Advice on the merchandising industry:
Be in touch with what your customers are looking for and what they expect your store to stock. Personal taste in merchandise doesn't always equal success in the retail world. You have to be in touch with what your customers want and need — not necessarily with what you like!
What sets your store apart:
When you go into Cavender's, you are overwhelmed with western merchandise. We carry more products per square foot than any other western retailer, period! I love seeing tourists walk in; they are just amazed by how many cowboy boots and how much western merchandise we have.
The most rewarding part of the job:
Anytime we open a new store, it is very rewarding for me. We do an unbelievable Internet business, but I still love building stores and watching people walk in and fall in love with Cavender's. You can touch a brick and mortar store. It has a special feel to it. I hate to drive away from a new store the day we get it open. I feel like I am leaving it unfinished. Then, I get back to the office and it is like Christmas to me because I cannot wait until the sales figures roll in. I have the new store managers text me sales figures every night of the first week we are open. I am like a kid waiting on them. I love to compare the new store figures to existing stores. I have been known to call a few older managers and tell them the new store is doing as well as or better than theirs. It is pretty funny to me, but probably agitating to the manager.