Retail beef

Last week, Christy Burton told me about a website called Retail Beef. This site was purportedly put up by a fashion designer to encourage feed back about store owners and buyers. Before you get really excited and stampede over there, there are a lot of problems with the site, so much so that I really thought long and hard before deciding to post this information. At this time, there are 83 comments reporting on the problems designers have had with specific retailers. Store names, buyers names, addresses and telephone numbers are often included. Many comments are complaints about such and such store bouncing boxes, writing bad checks and returning unsold product. Still, designers are well known to ship late or the wrong styles or whatever and there’s no way to know from the comments whether the person complaining didn’t do something to contribute to the problem.

There are credibility problems with the site too. The first entry of the blog is written in all capital letters. The credibility of many comments is questionable because they’re written in such juvenile language. Or maybe I’m questioning the validity of the comments because in my own experience, designers tend to be more intelligent than average and express themselves well. It is transparent (to me) that most of the damning comments are from the same anonymous poster (nearly all comments are anonymous). Worse, it would appear that these few are multi-posting with complaints about the same stores repeatedly, in order to weight visitors impressions. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of these comments were written by the blog author.

In summary, caveat lector because I think it’d be a tragedy to turn down a buyer who was innocent. There is no way to know if the return is really the designer’s fault. Still, I can only think the comments on RetailBeef could serve as a testament to mind your sales and payments policies. In the comments, you’ll find train wrecks of sales fiascos that never needed to happen.

In the event anyone wants to discuss similar matters here, I’ve started a topic in the forum.

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10 comments

  1. Julie says:

    The concept of retail beef is certainly interesting but I agree it doesnt’ sound very transparent.

    I am actualy in the processing of airing some of my complaints as a customer at United Nude, a footwear store, that I had purchased some shoes at a while back. I am going to title the post thank god I am not “just” a frustrated consumer because I have an outlet in which to air grievances and discuss issues. Most customers and I imagine designers probably feel similarly disencfranchized.

  2. My sole complaint right now is just the fact that it’s impossible at times to get store owners to make appointments to meet you or be polite. They act like they are God, yet forgetting it is because of designers that they exist.

  3. Miracle says:

    Kathleen,

    Thanks for posting this and I’m going to read all the comments. Frankly, I like it becuase it really shows you how the “better” stores that everyone wants to sell, can be nightmares to deal with. I have asked a few DEs, ranging in sales from $500K to $20 million, about this issue, and their comments mirror those on the website.

  4. Amy says:

    I just want to point out that when you post on Retail Beef, you are given the option to just call yourself “anonymous” rather than designate a name. I didn’t get the impression that these were the same posters at all. This is a good idea and clearly in it’s early stages, I think you are being a little hard on them. When it comes to not getting paid, many of the most well mannered designers/ reps will lose their decorum a little. I don’t believe this should be the holy bible of who to sell and who not to but it should give pause when a store shows up for the same offences over and over.

  5. Amanda Rodriguez says:

    I think Retail Beef is a terrific thing! I hope someday they will categorize it according to state.
    I did a couple of wholesale crafts markets a few years ago and we actually passed around lists of “naughty’ buyers from booth to booth. It was a Godsend.

  6. retailbeef says:

    HI Kathleen,
    My apologies for not having a chance to contact you since our last communication via email. I was actually quite interested in your blog until I received hostile emails from you accussing me of lying & hiding and faking.
    I was however completely shocked that you would instigate a vicious attack about my LITTLE TINY blog on your BIG HUGE blog.
    I am not a “PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER”, I am a designer and my main focuses & concerns are making sure that my business runs smoothly day to day.
    I cannot believe the immaturity of the comments that you made basically accusing the “AUTHOR” of the blog reposting stores to “WEIGHT VISITORS IMPRESSIONS” and commenting that I wrote the first posting in CAPITAL LETTERS. Is that not allowed?
    Designers are allowed to log in “anonymous” or create a unique user name, or as you may have noticed, some have actually used their names! I cannot control their comments and language, I will post a note for people to be a little more professional. I definelty don’t want people to slam one another “high school” style. This is supposed to be a forum to share information.

    Since I started http://www.retailbeef.blogspot.com in June I have received many postings and many thanks for creating this site. It has become obvious to me that there is a huge demand for this type of information and I am currently trying to figure out how to organize it so it can be more useful.

    Anyways, thanks for writing negative comments about “RETAIL BEEF” obviously you have a “beef” with us but thats ok, thanks again for drawing attention to our little blog!

    HAVE A BEEFY DAY!

  7. Kathleen says:

    RB:
    There was a whole group of us discussing your site, whether I should post on it or not so it’s not just me. Your site is a mixed bag. And yes, maybe people on your site, agree your site is a good thing, and you have to admit that several of those comments were made by you yourself! And, I totally agree it’s a good idea which is why I decided, in the end, to write about your blog. As it is, and what you fail to mention is that I contacted you repeatedly, trying to email interview you and to try to help you bring up the level of quality of your blog so that my review would be more positive. You were never available to respond. So what was I supposed to think?

    There were several things I didn’t put in my review that would have also reflected badly. Personally, my hope was that you would clean it up a little, then I would have announced it and then stuck you over there in my left sidebar under fashion blogs. I’ve done this with several people. If I thought your blog was terrible and a bad idea, I wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place.

    And sure, write in all caps if you like. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. Go wild.

    Lastly, you’re welcome. There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Congratulate yourself that you’ve done something to deserve it. Personally, I hope you take the criticisms constructively -lord knows I tried long and hard to start a dialog with you to help you- and build something really cool and helpful. It is a great idea.

  8. Kim White says:

    Hi everyone. I just want to say that I have been a designer for three years. A few of the stores listed on Retail Beef I have also had problems with. It’s a great site, and I’m glad it exists. I have not left any “beefs” yet. But to say that the posts are fake is absolutely crazy. Maybe some designers didn’t major in English, but they do get their point across just fine. Posting anonymously is a way to vent without reprocussions. If I post, I will post anonymously–and as a last resort. And I will definitely call the store ahead of time to let them know that I will post on Retail Beef, to give them one last chance to fix the problem. I have made a list of the naughty stores, and I will not give those stores terms, or accept company checks COD. I will let them know it is because they are on Retail Beef. Yay for Retail Beef!

  9. gypsie says:

    I wish I had written down all the stores that were posted so I could have a reference to them.
    I have had great stores and bad stores. It would be great for the designers to know both sides. The good ones and the bad ones. I want to know the bad ones in advance as I have been burnt by about 15% of the boutiques. So are there no more 105 pages to look at I would love to see them so I could write down the names, even if is just to have them. I have been telling people about this web and I guess you aren’t doing it anymore. It is a brilliant idea. Please carry on.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Gypsie, the site is still there. Btw, in case anybody wonders, we kissed and made up a looong time ago. You have to scroll down to that entry. To make it easy, use this link. She’s up to 311 comments now! I keep nagging her to put this in a database but she’s spread so thin. There’s a competing site up called Retail Dish now too. Not as kicky as retail beef (okay, I admit it, retail beef’s piss & vinegar style is addictive specially if you’ve ever talked to her by phone) but he’s got a database that’s searchable with ratings and what not. Ali’s most recent email lists 1056 postings on 428 stores.

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