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Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple
by Lindsay Gray ’12
Seniors John Tylko, Brianna Burt, Amanda Rossi, and I were honored with the Retail Management Institute’s Jill Curran Scholarship, which gave us the opportunity to travel to New York City for five days during January. Beyond adjusting to the refreshingly cold weather and hustle of New York life, we attended the 101st annual National Retail Federation’s “Big Show,” a conference of over 25,000 people in the retail industry from 78 different countries across the globe.
We attended several different educational sessions, including talks by social scientist and author of “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping,” Paco Underhill; CEO of Hudson Bay, Bonnie Brooks; CEO of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman; and a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton.
Common themes throughout the conference related to the growth and importance of Brazil and China and the continued utilization of social media in branding. We brought many of these cutting-edge insights back to other students in the program, and found the material useful in current coursework. I had a neat opportunity to serve on a panel for students at the conference, entitled “Internship Trials and Triumphs,” and also gave a report about our institute during the National Retail Federation Student Liaison updates. We took insights from other student groups and have been able to incorporate these into the continued improvement of our program.
The four of us were able to sprinkle in a little bit of sightseeing and toured the famous shopping districts, including Madison Avenue, 5th Avenue, SoHo, and the Meatpacking district, and compared our findings along the way. We spent some time reflecting at the 9/11 Memorial, ate at landmark destination restaurants, and also had the opportunity to see a Broadway show, to make our time in New York complete.
Our visit culminated in corporate tours and a behind-the-scenes look at the men’s fall lines for Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. Visits at all three locations offered incredible opportunities for learning, and greater understanding of the design and merchandising processes. A preview of each of the fall lines gave us a rare chance to compare the three retailers, and thoughtfully distinguish what makes each unique. The corporate executives graciously gave general overviews of their design processes, visual merchandising layouts, marketing campaigns, and sales techniques, to supplement our visual stimulation.
All in all, the trip to New York turned out to be an incredible experience full of rare opportunities and amazing insights. The four of us are extremely appreciative to the Curran Family and the Retail Management Institute for providing us with this opportunity.