Juniors’ Shopping Guide: Price is Right

Cost-conscious retailers are banking on bold colors and proven styles to lure young shoppers.

SHOEFLY, Buffalo, N.Y.
Sue Marfino
, owner
Store count:
1 (1,300 sq. ft.)
Open since:

Buying plan: “I’m looking for interest and excitement because a plain black shoe doesn’t sell as well as something that’s fun.”

Hunting for: “I need to make sure that heels aren’t too high, but also not err on the side of getting frumpy. I like to say ‘trendy but wearable.’”

Strategy shift: “I was a little more aggressive in the way I worded my sale. I put [signs around the store that said] 20 percent off the entire store. People are responding to that.”

Lesson learned from holiday ’08: “I don’t know if there is a lesson. Customers were willing to buy Frye boots that are more expensive, but a lot of people were all over the board. I think people always want to replace their shoes and have variety.”

Current bestsellers: Sugar, Frye, Miz Mooz

Spring ’09 forecast: “People are sick of trying to not shop. And spring is more affordable and colorful.”

Hottest new brand: Poetic Licence. “They’re all good party shoes, they’re very wearable and fun, and they cross over between juniors and youthful-attitude middle-agers.”

Next big thing: “With this economy, anything that makes a customer happy. They’re really passionate about what they’re buying.”

On the way out:

SOLE TO SOLE, Red Bank, N.J.
Jodi Farello
, owner
Store count:
1 (2,000 sq. ft.)
Open since:

Buying plan: “We look for trendy in the moderate price point because some customers may be paying for themselves.”

Hunting for: Gladiator sandals, jellies, patent leather, flat sandals and flip-flops

Strategy shift: “Now it’s price point because of the economy, but other than that, it’s always all about fashion.”

Lesson learned from holiday ’08:
“Shoes aren’t a gift-giving item for us. We don’t sell Uggs, so it’s not a strong time of the year for us. I try different things, but even the holiday shoes were slow.”

Current bestseller:
Sam Edelman

Spring ’09 forecast:
“It will be better. Spring and back-to-school are always our best seasons.”

Hottest new brands:
Poetic Licence, Apepazza

Next big thing: Boots with mesh, peep-toe booties, gladiator flats and sandals, ruffles

On the way out: “I don’t see fringe being as great as anyone thought it would be. I’m over it already.”

Jacqui Berkowitz, buyer for juniors’
Store count:
More than 1,100 (ave. 6,000 sq. ft.)
Open since:

Hunting for:
“New brands and casual shoes.”

Strategy shift: “In fall ’08, we saw a shift in consumer demand from casual shoes to boots.”

Lesson learned from holiday ’08:
“Even during a highly promotional time period, our customer is willing to invest if the shoe is right.”

Current bestsellers:
“Anything shearling and flat boots.”

Spring ’09 forecast:
“Customers are seeking greater value from their purchases. We’ll provide that value by offering the brands she desires in fresh, new styles that she doesn’t currently own, at key price points.”

Hottest new brand:

Next big thing:
“Flat sandals.”

Jill Ziarno
, manager/buyer
Store count:
1 (2,500 sq. ft.)
Open since:

Buying plan: “We like to mix it up and take chances. I have a plan in mind, but we buy what we love.”

Hunting for: “We’re finding that our customers still want a lot of flat sandals. We’re also heading toward wedges again, and we did slow down on ballet flats. The majority of our customers are into boots for the winter and casual flats.”

Strategy shift: “We have to be more competitive price-wise, but [as long as] we have different and fun merchandise that the juniors’ population wants, I’m not worried.”

Lesson learned from holiday ’08:
“We didn’t know what was going to be happening in the economy, but I’m hoping it will be better [soon]. I don’t know if I would make any big changes.”

Current bestsellers: Dolce Vita, Mystique, Yellow Box, Klub Nico, Hale Bob, Oh Deer

Spring ’09 forecast:
“I’m hoping we’ll do well. We have to be very competitive with prices, and customer service is really important.”

Hottest new brand:
Pour La Victoire

Next big thing:
“Grommets and stones are big, as well as cutouts, and platform heels are coming back. I’m also seeing more color. It’s better to be safe than sorry these days.”

On the way out: “Fringe.”


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