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Bargain Clothing.com: Living in A Material Virtual World

Well-dressed women fall into two categories: Those who spend a lot of money to look good, and those who don't.

To serve the latter group, the appropriately named bargainclothing.com seeks to enhance the wardrobes of the price-minded; from the harried to the city resident to the rural dweller who is three states away from the nearest Nordstrom.

"We are the first destination to offer women of all ages and sizes quality clothes at good prices," said Chief Operating Officer Michael Lieberman. "We offer contemporary styles. That's our business, and nothing else."

Focus, according to Lieberman, is the key. This is not a department store that offers a variety of items. And while there may be a future expansion into children's clothes or accessories, there are no plans to accommodate the male of the species.

Lieberman's parents and grandparents worked in New York's garment trade, but he went West to seek his own fortune. After establishing a rare book dealership and taking it online, he returned to the family business with his accumulated knowledge. With his brother, he sought to bring the concept of selling inexpensive, quality clothing onto the new platform (a privilege previously extended to those in the New York Metro area) and overcome the cultural stigma associated with the word "bargain:" proving that one does not have to compromise quality to receive great prices.

As for the stereotype that women don't like to buy anything they haven't tried on first, Lieberman has a ready answer. Women have bought from catalogues for 100 years, with the same limitations. With that in mind, a customer logging onto this site gets to see separate views and swatch close-ups: A whole lot more detail than what's offered in the average catalogue (Lieberman claims a 10 percent to 12 percent return rate, which he calls "low").

The company has yet to seek venture funding, although Lieberman predicts they will do so soon enough. Funding has so far originated from a single angel within the garment industry, who was the first person to whom the company showed the business plan.

"The funding process was painless," Lieberman said. "We have been excited about the response. For now, we plan to gradually increase our product selection and customer base, and start some new advertising and media programs. We expect our traffic will add a couple of digits each month, and we'll be ready for a round of capital in about six months."

The bargain clothing niche has already generated analyst enthusiasm. "I like the market," said Kenneth Cassar, an analyst for Jupiter Communications. "The market for plus-sized women is a growth industry in the market at large, and will play well on the Internet. Customers who live in urban markets may have some options to buy these goods, but that isn't the case in the rest of the country. So this plays to the 'sweet spot' on the Web."

In a Nutshell:

Company Name: bargainclothing.com
Address: 55 S. Atlantic Suite 316 Seattle Wash. 98134
Phone: (206)-262-0784
Fax: (206)-262-0785
Contact e-mail address: michael@bargainclothing.com
Web address: http://www.bargainclothing.com
Total Funding: $5 million
Investor: Angel investor

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