Price Key for Buyers at Compass

Boots, fresh product and reasonable price points were driving buys at last week’s Compass trade show in New York.

Ouigi Theodore, owner of the directional streetwear boutiques Brooklyn Circus in Brooklyn, N.Y., and San Francisco, said he was shopping Compass for footwear to introduce to the store mix. With the retailer bringing in nine to 10 styles for the first time this spring, Theodore said price was key: The $130-to-$180 range was as high as most of his customers would go for fashion shoes. However, he added, there is some room in higher price points for timeless staples. “If it’s over $300, it has to be a man’s shoe,” Theodore said.

Dana Schwister, owner of Shoe Market in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, said price was a key consideration as well. Among the standout styles she saw were 80%20 and Timberland’s Abington and Timberland Boot Co. lines, especially in women’s. Schwister said she also was drawn to the quality and value from Japanese brand Caminando, which was making its U.S. debut.

Steve Silver, co-owner of the Next chain of stores in Cleveland, was particularly excited about the fall offerings from Native, 80%20 and Gourmet, hailing the new lower prices for that line (the majority under $110, down from $120 to $180).

“It makes it much more accessible, and that’s going to translate at retail,” Silver said. “On the men’s side, I see more and more casual and traditional looks eating away at the sneaker business,” he said.

For Lester Wasserman, owner of New York’s West boutique, boots also will be key for fall ’10. Wasserman said styles from Red Wing and Dr. Martens looked good, and that he was impressed with the new Native boot. And while he was reviewing price points, it wasn’t necessarily the first consideration. “I’m looking for more of the right stuff than the right price,” he said. “If the item truly delivers, price is irrelevant. But it has to be an A-plus item, and there aren’t too many of those.”

Minya Quirk, from show organizers BPMW, said the vendor and retail turnout at the first New York edition of Compass had reinforced their decision to move the show from its former home in Vegas. “It exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of traffic and business being done,” she said.

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