Retail Guide: Kids’ Shopping List

SESAME STEP, Miami
Eddie Quintana, president
Store count: 1 (1,600 sq. ft.); est. 1988
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “Being in Miami, about 85 percent of my buy goes to sandals. Metallics are still retailing well, so we’ll probably put a lot of our money there.”
Buying strategy: “With the current situation, I’m trying to stay in that mid-tier price range, which is anywhere from $50 to $65. We’ve reduced the buy on a lot of our higher-end brands.”
Biggest challenge: “Getting customers through our door, because there are so many promotions being done by the national [retailers] and Internet sites.”
View on the economy: “We got hit really hard at the beginning, then started coming back up, and now we’re feeling [sales slowing] again. Consumers are shopping only when they need to, and there are none of those must-have items.”
Current bestsellers: Kenneth Cole Reaction, Geox
Hottest new brand: “Skechers Twinkle Toes are the hottest item we’ve had in months.”
Best price point: $50. “There is no resistance there. Customers don’t ask for discounts, and everything at that price is selling well.”
Spring ’11 forecast: “I’m an optimist, and I think we’re on the tail end of this. I have to believe spring will be strong. Traditionally, it’s a great season for me because there’s a lot of exciting product that draws people in.”
Next big thing: “[Skechers] Shape-ups are huge for adults, and they’re starting to become a look more than a function. That could be the next hot item in the kids’ market.”

GUMSHOE, Burlingame, Calif.
Kathryn McCarthy, owner
Store count: 1 (1,100 sq. ft.); est. 2005
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “Gladiator-inspired sandals caught on this season, and if they’re done in a kid-friendly way, I will bring those in. I can’t get enough of Skechers Twinkle Toes. I’m also looking at multiuse athletic shoes.”
Buying strategy: “I’m buying deeper into products rather than being widely assorted. I have probably cut the brands I sell in half and kept those I trust. I’ve also had to lower price points, so that has definitely changed the way I buy.”
Biggest challenge: “Locally, our biggest challenge is competing with Stride Rite because of its ability to do promotions and mark down things — also, the Internet. We try to wow customers with service so they want to support us instead.”
View on the economy: “Last holiday, it felt like things were coming back, but then people pulled back again. Spring felt a bit better, and fall will be a good test.”
Current bestsellers: Tsukihoshi, Keen, Puma, See Kai Run
Hottest new brands: “We’ve only had Keen for one season, but I think it’s really going to have its following. Beeko and Rileyroos have also done very well.”
Best price point: $45
Spring ’11 forecast: “I wish I could be more optimistic, but [the recession] has changed the way people shop, probably permanently.”
Next big thing: “If you can nail something that has function and style, it will be a total home run. Moms still want fashion, but they want function now more than ever.”

BRADSHAW’S CHILDREN’S SHOES, Arlington, Va.
Jackie Blumenthal, owner
Store count: 1 (1,100 sq. ft.); est. 1992
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “I’m putting more money into Keen and Teva because we didn’t have enough last season. I’m generally looking at more of those types of [functional, water-friendly] sandals rather than traditional sandals.”
Buying strategy: “We look very carefully at our numbers and then very carefully at what is available. We don’t want to let the numbers hold us back from being creative and finding great new things, but you need to always keep those numbers in mind.”
Biggest challenge: “The Internet. It’s a little frustrating.”
View on the economy: “I see things leveling. I don’t know if things will ever go back to what they were before, but the big dips are hopefully done now.”
Current bestsellers: Keen, Teva, Crocs, Stride Rite
Hottest new brand: “The JJ Sport washable collection from Jumping Jacks.”
Best price point: Less than $55
Spring ’11 forecast: “I’m hoping it starts inching upward. I’m not looking for huge increases, but I am looking for a bit of an increase.”
Next big thing: “Skechers Twinkle 
Toes will drive some pretty good numbers.”

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