Retail Guide: Juniors’ Shopping List

RIPE, New York
Asi Agajan, owner
Store count: 1 (800 sq. ft.); est. 2009
Hunting for: “I’m looking for shoes that are different. I don’t like to see things made by 20 different vendors with little variation. I also would love to see more comfort in the fashion.”
Strategy shift: “I began bringing in higher price points because I felt I could buy less for fewer customers, but have more expensive items, hopefully make the same numbers, and at the end of the season be left with less inventory.”
View on the economy: “We’re on our way out of the recession.”
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “You can do everything you can to optimize your business, but you can’t force people to buy.”
Current bestsellers: “Kelsi Dagger is hitting it right in terms of style, price and quality. Also some styles I got from Jeffrey Campbell and Sam Edelman are like candy.”
Best price point: $110 to $200
Spring ’10 forecast: “I’m more optimistic because the weather brings out a different vibe. Customers want to show off their shoes. I’m not being conservative because I want to have more things that are different.”
Hottest new brand: Kelsi Dagger
Next big thing: “Two-inch wedge sandals. We’re seeing a lot of that from Jeffrey Campbell. For fall, clogs are going to be a big trend.”

LOVE MY SHOES and LOVEMYSHOES.COM, Farmingdale, N.Y.
Robert Yeganeh, owner
Store count: 5 (avg. 8,000 sq. ft.); est. 1997
Hunting for: “Different, unique items have proven to be the selling factor. We’re looking for items that are very junior, very cutting-edge.”
Strategy shift: “We’re being very focused — lean and mean. We’ve learned that the textbook saying of doing 80 percent of your business with 20 percent of your inventory is absolutely accurate.”
View on the economy: “It’s going to take at least 12 to 18 more months before a small independent chain like ours can really see a bright light. But we’re on the right track.”
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “Make earlier markdowns because it’s a rat race. You have to make quicker, harder decisions.”
Current bestsellers: “The wooden bottom with denim upper, as well as bling for spring, and over-the-knee still has a major role to play for fall.”
Best price point: $59 to $79
Spring ’10 forecast: “I believe we’re going to get a break, so my outlook is pretty positive. [We just need to] keep prices at a manageable level and not try to make up for the lost years.”
Hottest new brands: Say What, Blossom
Next big thing: “We’re hearing from customers that heel heights are getting ridiculous. Some companies, like Dollhouse, are doing the same shoes, but they’re bringing the heel heights down.”

WHATAPAIR.COM
Belinda Badell, president
Established: 1993
Hunting for: “We could have used more weather-related boots, outdoor boots and unique boots altogether. We’re also looking for fitness and comfort brands.”
Strategy shift: “We need to keep our inventory at a very controlled level. We also think brands that are not massively distributed in the U.S. right now are an opportunity.”
View on the economy: “We’re really going through a cleansing of the shoe industry right now: Those that are on top of their game will survive; the others will be leaving the table.”
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “We need more boots made for weather-related situations.”
Current bestsellers: “Jeffrey Campbell. He is magical, and he can immediately interpret the major trends at affordable prices. We’ve also done well with Chooka.”
Best price point: $69 to $89
Spring ’10 forecast: “If everything continues to go well, we should be comfortable with our open-to-buy and our projections.”
Hottest new brand: “The Flexx. What they’re doing is phenomenal. The look is fresh and the comfort is there.”
Next big thing: “Staples and nail-head trim constructions. Also, we like Mountrek. It will help us in the void we’ve had in terms of outdoor product.”

 

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