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If you are getting ready to go to market there are certain steps you need to take before you start writing your orders.

1. Plan your sales!!
This is the most critical thing you can do as you need to be buying to meet a sales plan. You do not want to be in a position of buying a certain amount of merchandise, then trying to figure out how to sell it once it gets into the store. Retailing is not like the movie "Field of Dreams" where all the star had to do was build the baseball field and people came. (If you buy something for your store, customers will not automatically appear to buy it!)

2. Plan how much of your Open-To-Buy dollars to hold back for in-season promotions and fill- ins.
As the economy slows down this is also your insurance that you will not end up with a lot of merchandise at the end of the season if actual sales are lower than you planned. This is also a good way to increase your initial markup as in-season goods are generally available at a much better price to you. I have talked to retailers who tell me they only order the minimum amount at market and buy the rest in season. This would not work for those of you who are buying for a particular look in your store as the goods you want may not be available in season. This is a call that only you, as the buyer, must make.

3. Stick with your buying plan!
This can be the hardest part of buying. As you view all the lines you may see a great new line of merchandise. However, you may have already placed your orders and have no Open-To-Buy dollars left. Some will buy it anyway, thinking they will get some extra sales. What usually happens is that this merchandise will sell but you will be left with the other merchandise you have in the store. This is why I recommend you do not place all your orders at market but leave some dollars available for new things that you may find. It is also a good idea to spend a little time just "walking the aisles" to see what is new or different that you may be able to bring into your store.