Our Meet the Merchant series features Q&As with real-world Clover merchants. Read our full catalog for innovative ideas and real-life stories of small businesses in action.
Clover: Hi Adi, thank you for speaking with us today! Can you tell us about Perfume Outlet 1803 and how you got started?
Adi Schwartz Gomez: I originally started out as a wholesale business. I re-sold overstock, misprints — anything from perfect, brand new perfumes all the way to the tester bottles from the manufacturers and big box stores.
I’m a mom of twins, and while being pregnant with those twins, my wholesale business took a backseat. But, I’ve always had a thing for saving people money. I was always in a wholesale setting, even while growing up. I never want to pay full price for anything. That mentality translated into, “Hey, I want to save people money because we all work really hard and none of us like to settle for less.”
Because of my wholesale connections and my contacts, I opened this perfume outlet right after I had my kids, in May of 2018.
We’re really big on education at Perfume Outlet 1803. We pride ourselves in helping customers learn to identify counterfeits and find a scent that’s right for them depending on their likes.
Clover: What does this education look like?
Schwartz Gomez: When a consumer gets in touch, our focus isn’t on the sale, but on teaching. Should that person choose to buy from us, great. But we’re more into educating people on knowing the difference between the real and the fake.
Perfume isn’t just about fragrance. Perfume is about chemistry. The ingredients that are inside, the way it smells on each person, and the way it conforms to our PH balance, to our chemistry — these are different from person to person. The wonderful thing about perfume is the way it makes you feel. It’s about the memories that it brings up. Your perfume is just as important as the shoes that you choose to wear in the morning to match your outfit. It’s part of your whole presentation, because it’s something that people are going to smell.
So in the store, somebody can come in and say, “Hey, this is what I’ve been wearing for five hundred years, and I want to try something new.” Just by them telling us what they wear, we know how to recommend something similar they may like. We offer very personalized service.
Our main business is locals. People that live, shop, work and play, you know, in the area of Hollywood. Eighty to ninety percent of our business is referral-based.
Clover: That’s great to hear. Besides referrals, how do people find out about you?
Schwartz Gomez: We use the usual marketing channels, like social media and email campaigns. Aside from that, I do a lot of community-based networking. I’m am the co-chair of the ambassadors at the local Chamber of Commerce. I am an LGBTQ business community member and a member of Hollywood Women’s Club. I also co-chair another local networking group in West Hollywood, which is also part of the local chamber of commerce. I’m very involved, community-wise. Networking that way probably makes 60% – 80% of our “marketing.”
Clover: What made you choose Clover as your POS system?
Schwartz Gomez: I really liked that Clover gave me a POS system that also allowed me to manage my inventory. Because retail is really a whole new venture for me, Clover gave me a way to learn about the industry and gave me the tools that I needed, without spending thousands of dollars on a customized POS system. And as I got to know the system, I realized Clover does reports and all these other cool things.
I have recently discovered the sales report where you can see which items you’re selling more of than others, as well as your profit margin averages. That’s all been really, really helpful. In my particular business, the way I receive the product, I don’t get a manifest. I just received fifty-two-foot trucks, totally blind. I have no clue what’s in the delivery until we start opening boxes and sifting through the products. I don’t necessarily know the exact cost per piece, since there’s no manifest. Clover’s ability to give me an average cost or profit margin has been extremely helpful for the retail part of the business.
Clover: How did your business fare during the pandemic?
Schwartz Gomez: During the pandemic, we were closed for about two months. During that time, I made it a point to do inventory, just to keep things going. Our foot traffic dropped, but it did give us an opportunity to think about other ways of selling. We don’t sell through a website, but we did put more time into our eBay store. We added more items as well as delivery to our service, which worked out really well. Who doesn’t love a surprise delivery of their favorite fragrance! Better than flowers and chocolate if you ask me.
We’re still a new business and we’re still growing our customer base. I think because of that we took less of a hit than more established businesses, potentially.
Clover: Do you have any advice for other small business owners?
Schwartz Gomez: I think that the best advice I can give a small business owner is to never give up. Sometimes, it’s easy to give up — running a business is a lot of work and stress. It’s countless hours and sweat equity and tears. But, if you have a vision and you’re willing to work for it, it’s definitely worth it to keep going.
Clover: What’s next for Perfume Outlet 1803?
Schwartz Gomez: Ideally, we’ll open another location in a different area to give more people access to savings. That will probably be several years down the road. I want to make sure we’re established in our current neighborhood before branching out.
Read more of our Meet the Merchant stories for real-life stories of small businesses in action all over the country. Want to be featured in this series? Fill out our questionnaire, and if we can include you in a future interview cycle, we’ll send you an invitation!
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