Shopping List: Women’s

STELLA, Burlington, Vt.
Llyndara Harbour, owner

Store count: 1 (1,000 sq. ft.)
Open since: 2003
Buying plan: “We’re re-addressing every price point we offer, coming away from our lower-end merchandise and trying to focus on mid-[range] to high-end products.”
Hunting for: “For spring, we feel we can get a little more creative and aggressive.”
Strategy shift: “With the consumer shift of going green, we’re also looking for companies that have a story, whatever it may be.”
View on the economy: “It forces us to re-address what we’re doing, work hard and tighten up our business.”  
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “It doesn’t matter if something is a company’s best seller. We know our customers best, and if we don’t want it in the store, it won’t sell.”
Current bestsellers: Frye, Jeffrey Campbell, Miz Mooz, Gentle Souls
Best price point: $80 to $150
Fall ’09 forecast: “We’re going to see a much stronger holiday season than we had last year. When people come back out with their dollars, it’s going to go toward quality.”
Hottest new brands: Antelope and Corso Como.
Next big thing: “Girly styles and footwear with a story or cause.”
On the way out: “We’re moving our customers out of their Uggs and into beautiful and cozy waterproof boots by Timberland.”

SHOE MARKET, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Erika Vala, co-owner

Store count: 2 (average 575 sq. ft.)
Open since: 2007 (Mini Mini Market open since 1999)
Buying plan: “We’re looking for fashionable, affordable, comfortable shoes that are unique.”
Hunting for: “Cute wedges. We’re always looking for new, but we’re also going to try to streamline our collection more.”
Strategy shift: “Focusing more on our bestsellers and keeping them in stock.”
View on the economy: “It feels like it’s bouncing back right now. In New York, we’re a little sheltered.”  
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “Having a good selection of affordable shoes really pays off in this economy.”
Current best-sellers: Worshoffer, Jeffrey Campbell
Best price point: $80 shoes; $200 boots
Fall ’09 forecast: “It’ll go well. People are more confident to buy again, but we have to stay away from the really high price points.”
Hottest new brands: Marais USA, Indigo by Clarks
Next big thing: “High heels and crazy studded shoes.”
On the way out: “Square toes and flats.”

Kelsie Petree, owner

Store count: 1 (1,700 sq. ft.)
Open since: 2008
Buying plan: “We want to stock shoes that no one else has, including the department stores.”
Hunting for: “Fun sandals for summer, more color and comfort, because customers are looking for that. Instead of being set on certain brands, I go with what I think my customers will buy.”
Strategy shift: “I’m not overbuying, and I’m not buying the more expensive styles. I still have a few of the higher-end designer brands, but I’m trying to find more at that $150 range, rather than $300 to $400.”
View on the economy: “It hasn’t hit here as much as it has in other cities in Oklahoma. People are still buying, but they’re being more cautious.”
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “I was trying to be safe with color and had a lot of neutrals and metallics, which are popular, but I wish I would have done more color. For spring, I’m probably going to try to add more bright colors.”
Current bestsellers: Beverly Feldman, BCBGMaxAzria
Best price point: $150 to $200
Fall ’09 forecast: “I’m still going to be cautious with boots. Last year, I had a lot of boots around $500 that I had a hard time selling.”
Hottest new brands: Kate Spade, Apepazza
Next big thing: “The chunky heels, booties and platforms.”
On the way out: “Gladiators that are strappy up the ankle.”

Patti Silver, co-owner

Store count: 1 (610 sq. ft.)
Open since: 1970
Buying plan: “We’ll continue with each of our 36 women’s collections, but we’re also always looking for innovative designers.”
Strategy shift: “I’m looking [to do] more private-label and bring in fewer expensive fashion collections, generally $200 and less.”
View on the economy: “We’re in a survivor mode. We feel it’s going to take at least another year-and-a-half to two years to go through the mumps and measles.”
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “We need fresh and exciting fashion at lower price points.”
Current bestsellers: Christian Louboutin, Prada, YSL, Valentino, Giuseppe Zanotti, Le Silla, Max Kibardin
Best price point: $500 
Fall ’09 forecast: “It’s going to be flat — at best. We hope we can attain the figures we had a year ago, but it’s not likely.”
Hottest new brands: Pierre Hardy, Roberto Cavalli, Rough Justice, Behnaz Kanani
On the way out: “Very dressy looks.”


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