by Karen Alberg Grossman
Jerry Park and Fred Derring
Jerry Park (L) and Fred Derring (R)

Joining Fred Derring, Virginia Sandquist and Krystal Nicolo in the DLS office, Jerry Park has officially moved from Atlanta to New York City to start his new position. His strong retail background (Sanger-Harris, 10+ years at Harolds in Dallas and then his own business–Park & Company in Oklahama City) makes him a great match for DLS, says its president Fred Derring. “I worked with Jerry in the past when he was a member of our office and was always impressed with his knowledge of the business, both traditional fashion at Harolds and a more European sensibility at Park & Company. It’s a good fit for our 200+ clients who cover the spectrum of classic to contemporary.”

Park, whose dad was a CPA and has always considered the financial part of the business as important as the merchandising, explains that he closed Park & Company in 2000 because he anticipated the shopping center decline and its ramifications. “I truly believe in specialty stores,” he maintains, “especially those that own their own building. I also believe in brick & mortar: with all the talk about online taking over, 85-90 percent of apparel sales are still done in physical stores.”

Park’s philosophy of business is summed up simply: “Independent stores can’t be all things to all people but they should be all things to their customers, who can’t be defined simply by age or income.” He also maintains that the customer service and “touch and feel” components of specialty store retailing are tough to duplicate online. “But since young customers often start their search online, websites need to communicate a strong image.”

Park’s other top suggestions for independent merchants: “Get involved with social media, either by learning it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. It’s the best way to reach younger customers. And, most importantly, come to market with open eyes and a willingness to test new ideas from new vendors. There’s a lot more creativity out there these days but too few retailers are truly open to it.”