Shopping List: Kids’

Bruce Stern, president

Store count: 1 (1,800 sq. ft.)
Open since: 1988
Buying plan: “I’m buying closer to the season instead of buying ahead of time.”
Hunting for: “Active, water-friendly sandals and less-dressy sandals.”
Strategy shift: “I’m trying to spread out invoices and deliveries.”
View on the economy: “I’ve seen a slight shift recently, but the true test for me will be this fall.”
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “Wait until you miss a sale. If you’re not missing sales, you don’t need it.”
Current bestsellers: “Tsukihoshi and Crocs. The Teva Cyclone is still my bestselling sandal.”
Best price point: $50
Hottest new brand: “I’m nuts for Beeko.”
Next big thing: “Non-lace, easy on, easy off shoes.”
On the way out: “White dress shoes.”

SANDY’S SHOES, Austin, Texas
David Fenwick, president

Store count: 1 (3,500 sq. ft.)
Open since: 1979
Buying plan: “I’m going to be looking for tried-and-true, and I’ll go deep with them. I’m not going to take a lot of chances, but I will be aggressive.”
Hunting for: “Something that gives everybody a reason to think maybe it’s worth buying that extra pair.”
Strategy shift: “Having Lynco [orthotics] from Aetrex has probably done more to account for why I’m up than any one item.”
View on the economy: “We’ve been through ups and downs before. Consumers are going to continue to buy what they need and what really seems to have value to them.”  
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “Don’t stick my neck out on a lot of diverse product.”
Current bestseller: Keen Newport
Best price point: $50
Fall ’09 forecast: “I believe we will continue our pattern of increase. I don’t think we’ll be up a lot, but we’ll be up.”
Next big thing: “Aetrex, because the company is just now getting into the whole kids’ thing.”
On the way out: “Flip-flops [have] no perceived value in my store at any price point.”

BROOKS SHOES FOR KIDS, Santa Monica, Calif.
Matthew Brooks, regional manager

Store count: 10 (average 1,100 sq. ft.)
Open since: 1955
Buying plan: “Our plan is to be cautious. We want to have our core product with brands such as Stride Rite, Nina and Kenneth Cole that we can go back to weekly.”
Strategy shift: “We’ve tried to be more focused and concentrate on our core brands.”
View on the economy: “We’re assuming that fall will continue to be difficult. Customers are buying one at a time, extending the life of every pair and buying down.”  
Current bestsellers: Stride Rite, Tsukihoshi, Nike and Kenneth Cole
Best price point: $45 to $55
Hottest new brand: “Tsukihoshi continues to outperform the other brands.”
Next big thing: “Ugg is going to continue to be strong in the fall.”
On the way out: “Beaded footwear from brands such as Lelli Kelly, and higher-priced footwear.”

TOE JAMZ, Louisville, Ky.
Dana Parker, owner

Store count: 1 (1,600 sq. ft.)
Open since: 2007
Buying plan: “Finding fashionable footwear that fits. I’m staying away from high-fashion, crazy stuff that’s going to come and go.”
Hunting for: “Water-friendly footwear to replace Crocs, washable footwear and anything with good, solid construction.”
Strategy shift: “To have a more conservative approach. Customers want one multipurpose shoe, so I plan to buy pretty heavy in Keen and Hoy sandals.”
View on the economy: “I felt it somewhat, but people who buy good shoes for their kids are going to continue to do so regardless of what’s going on with the economy.”  
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “I’m not going to do any kind of thong sandals for younger children.”
Current bestsellers: Tsukihoshi, Nina, Jumping Jacks, Umi, New Balance
Best price point: “$35 to $40 for summer; $40 to $50 for winter.”
Fall ’09 forecast: “I don’t think it’s going to be worse, but I don’t really think it’s going to be any better.”
Hottest new brands: “RocSoc footwear. I have to place reorders every two weeks. Also, Teva and Saucony.”
Next big thing: “Boots and snow boots galore because of last winter — I have both Ugg and Bearpaw coming.”
On the way out: “Crocs. That is so over.”

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