Solution 1 - 1042-2587 Copyright 2004 by Baylor University...

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Fall, 2004 501 T his case is about a manufacturer of clothing for large and “super size” women, and its founder. Graduating from college with a psychology degree in 1978, Cynthia Riggs started selling items in flea markets to make ends meet. In 1980, she moved her clothing and “collectibles” business to a retail site. In 1984, when she could not find appropriate clothing to sell in her store, she began the transition from retailer to manu- facturer. From 1988 until 1992, Cynthia operated Making it Big out of a small storefront. In 1992, MIB’s operations moved to a larger, 3,800 square foot facility. Selling mainly through its catalogue and the Internet, MIB grew from sales of $1.89 million in 1997 to $2.48 million in 2000. Buoyed by success, she began exploring ways to bring the company to a higher level of growth and productivity. In 2001, revenues fell 5 percent, and 2002 sales were predicted to fall further. Employee morale was down and Cynthia felt burned out. After disappointing returns from the 2001 spring season, Cynthia invested in revamping the catalogue, improving the website, and expanding the mailing list. When sales from the 2002 fall catalogue started coming in lower than the previous year, Cynthia was not sure where to turn. She had hoped to build a management team to help her expand the business, but the disappoint- ing returns threatened to derail her plans and her business. The case is positioned to discuss the stages of new business development and growth. The two major themes of this case are (a) the personal decisions involved in starting and managing a business, and (b) dealing with the uncertainties that threaten a business’s profitability and growth. Many students will identify with the path Cynthia Riggs has taken in starting and building Making It Big. This case contains enough information to analyze the company’s operations and the impact of the Internet and the changes in the economy on Making It Big’s financial situation.
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