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Stiff competition in the Downtown mannequin business

By Michael Katz
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012, at 06:07PM
Michael Katz/ KPCC

Standing in the window at Genesis Display Factory & Design are a variety of nude mannequins: Black, White, men, women, children, even dogs.

Who is in the market for dog mannequins?

A couple of doors down at Unique Display (Genesis’ sister store), a mannequin of a nude woman with a chest that would make a porn star envious stares out at the street. She isn’t alone, though. She is joined by a greyish-blue woman and another whose skin tone is metallic silver.

This is nothing out of the ordinary for Johnny Anally, who has worked at the store since it opened in November 2011. It’s a display store after all, and mannequins are easily their most visible product.

“[We sell] custom counters, wall cases, custom racks, [and] custom mannequins,” Anally said. “Everybody has a different need.”

Genesis and Unique Display provide products for displaying clothes and other items to large manufacturers around the world. In the United States alone, the company serves 1,500 stores. Genesis serves every sort of business imaginable. The diversity in the mannequins is evident.

“We have different designs for lingerie stores,” Anally said. “Some of them are for wedding dresses … There are all different designs.”

It can seem like a strange business, selling fake naked humans generally made of plastic and fiberglass, but Anally said that it remains entirely professional: no perverts coming in to peep at the figures and no people buying mannequins for "themselves".

The process of creating a mannequin typically takes about a week. Depending on its specifications, such as dimension, material, size, etc., it can be made in the store itself or might have to be made in another country and shipped in.

Because of these specifics, not all of these mannequins are created equally. The price range for one can range from $150 to more than $500. It all depends on the type that the customer desires and the material it is made out of. A customized mannequin at a high-end store could cost upwards of $1,000, depending on its specific dimensions.

The large chested lady in the window? She will cost you a mere $190. The red one behind her? She's just $180.

But just like anything else, you get what you pay for, Anally said.

“The cheaper you get out there, the cheaper the customer gets,” Anally explained. “If you tell them it’s five dollars, they’ll try to give you three dollars.”

Sadly, the business is not doing particularly well, as there isn’t a huge market for mannequins.

There are also plenty of competitors on San Pedro Street that sell the same product. Just a block down, Display For You has been selling mannequins for close to 10 years and competes with Genesis. Saul Deloa, the store's manager, does not believe in lowering prices of his product to get customers, though.

“It’s up to the customers who they want to buy from,” Deloa explained. “The companies set the prices [of the products].”

Deloa said that his store has seen a 25% decline in sales since 2008. The majority of his customers come from Mexico and other countries; hardly any are local. His store features a 30-day return policy, which is appealing to customers that are finicky.

Anally, however, is not concerned with competition such as Deloa’s. He cares about giving the people what they want, and he believes his store does it best.

“I know everything from A-Z,” Anally said. “[Competitors are] nothing compared to me. That’s how I see myself.”

Anally also isn’t too preoccupied with the numbers of customers he has on a given day, either. Frankly, it isn’t that important to him.

“It only takes one customer to walk in to make your day. You don’t need thousands and thousands of customers coming in and out all day,” Anally said. “It’s just giving them what they want and it’s making the customer feel like he could spend his money here comfortably.”

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