This Wednesday Watch is about brand boutiques versus authorized dealers. IWC triggered me to write about this, as they recently revealed their latest boutique, located on Madison Avenue in New York City. It is their biggest brand boutique so far (3,000 square feet), and IWC is especially proud to have it in the USA as their founder (Florentine Ariosto Jones) was an American.
New York City, for instance, has a number of brand boutiques at this moment, like Audemars Piguet, Omega, Officine Panerai, Hublot and so on.
It is very tempting to go to a brand boutique, as they have virtually every model in stock of the brand whereas the authorized dealers only have a sub-collection most of the time, depending on a few variables. Also, the brand boutique has that touch of magic as you probably go to the store to buy a watch of a certain brand. You want to be part of them and the brand. Brands also want to have influence on the selling and after sales skills of the people working in the boutiques, so you can be assured that they are knowledgeable about the brand and their collections.
So, why should you go to a normal authorized dealer if you already decided to buy from a certain brand that has their own boutique?
For starters, boutiques do not give discounts. Perhaps they ‘unofficially’ give them, but discount is a nasty word to brands and they would rather not see that their watches leave at a reduced price. Another argument to go to an authorized dealer is that you already know the reputation of the store and staff, and have built a good relationship with them. They know what you are looking for, and go the extra mile when it comes to service and so on.
The problem with the authorized dealers (as opposed to the brand boutiques) is that they are required to buy a certain collection of watches of a brand. Even if the watches that do not sell in a certain country or region, they have to take it aboard. The brand even dictates where they are to be shown in the displays. Brand boutiques can just decide they only want model ‘x’ or ‘y’ and not ‘z’.
So, being an official representative of a brand as an authorized dealer, you DO compete directly with the brand when having a boutique around the corner. Is this fair? I don’t know, as I’ve written above, for consumers there are some pros buying from an authorized dealer instead of buying a watch at a brand boutique.
My personal opinion is that you should try to create a relationship with your dealer, whether this is an authorized dealer selling multiple brands or a brand boutique of just one brand. This way, they know what you are looking for, who you are and what is of interest for you personally. If there are no discounts possible, try to see what else they have to offer. Besides an extra strap or book, some of them are occasionally offering trips to manufacturers or will ask their customers to join an event.