Q&A with Susan McMahon, Owner Donna Bella Lingerie

Image of Susan McMahon at her Store Donna Bella Boutique

Q&A with Susan McMahon, Owner
Donna Bella Lingerie

Susan McMahon is the Owner of Donna Bella Boutique in Corvallis, Oregon. She sat down with the Lingerie Journal over the phone to talk about her store. Susan, thank you again for sharing!

TLJ: Susan, what are the best sellers at your store?

Susan: I’d have to say it’s Eveden, Anita and Wacoal. Fit is the domain associated with Eveden—Europeans just get it.

Anita focuses on a basic style and they have gorgeous, fabulous fitting bras, but more basic. They do have a high-end and pretty collection, but we stay away from that only because of the price points.

Wacoal we carry for the name. There are products we love and some…that we don’t. Our customers love the cost associated with Wacoal. They are a mid-tier brand with reasonable products with a price point that people are comfy with.

In this market we’re really sensitive to price. All of us are.

TLJ: What do you look for when searching for new inventory?

Susan: I am very careful about what I bring into my store. I won’t bring in the low-end brands—not at all. And the reason for that is because the department stores are already saturated with them. I consider them a tainted product.

I struggle the most in the moderate to low price points and being happy with it.

I find it hard to fill niches in our store because I can’t find the right product or the right company. My biggest niche to fill is the ABC cut girls who don’t want to spend money on bras, but don’t mind going to Victoria’s Secret and are OK with buying a bra that falls apart in six months.

TLJ: Can you expand on your decision process?

Susan: It all depends on gaps and holes. I’m looking for good price points and I try it with caution. I try to see the fit and I try it out on the staff to decide if we like it or not.

TLJ: What are some new products that you’ve tested and have worked?

Susan: The newest products we’ve brought in are Affinitas and Alegro and they have worked out very well. Affinitas has a new collection of bigger cups.

TLJ: What trade shows do you attend and how do they influence your buying decisions?

Susan: I do CURVE Las Vegas being that I’m here on the West Coast. I have done the NY shows, but factoring in the time, cost, etc, it doesn’t make sense. CURVENV is a good show.

With new product, if I can’t see it or feel it, I’m not going to buy it.

I’d say that 90 percent of what we carry comes from going to the shows. I will say though, that I often don’t order at the show. I have to make sure it makes financial sense first.

TLJ: Are there any other trade shows you attend?

Susan: In Portland, I go to the Northwest Market. It’s mid-tier and I find a lot of the flirty items I carry at my store like Shirley of Hollywood, Dreamgirl, etc. I’ll also shop for bustiers and sleepwear there.

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