Retail Guide: Kids’ Shopping List

SHOE BOX, Newport Beach, Calif.
Brad Levy, owner
Store count: 2 (avg. 1,300 sq. ft.); est. 1974
Hunting for: “Anything I can get in boots, but they have to be moderately priced. I don’t have a market for the $150 European boot anymore, so we’re looking for boots in the $60 range.”
Strategy shift: “We’re trying to pre-book very little merchandise unless it’s something we have to have. On shoes that I sell as my bread and butter, I’m buying them in season, turning the inventory and filling them in.”
View on the economy: “It’s pretty rough here. We had a nice little turnaround during the holiday season because the weather was great. But we predicted it would start tapering off as we hit January and February.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “We had to take some earlier markdowns. It paid off because we moved a lot of stuff out and customers were happy to get a good deal.”
Current bestsellers: “Pediped Flex has been amazing. Also anything in the new technical Stride Rite shoes, and Nike 6.0 is by far the best thing that has hit athletic in years for me.”
Best price point: $60
Spring ’10 forecast: “It’s dependent on the weather. As soon as we hit sunshine, we’re going to be banging out flip-flops.”
Hottest new brand: “Voltage is just launching a kids’ line that’s very trendy and very fast.”
Next big thing: “More washable product, like that from Stride Rite and Pediped. That seems to be a big trend.”

SIKES CHILDREN’S SHOES, Homewood, Ala.
Sonya Jones, buyer/manager
Store count: 1 (2,000 sq. ft.); est. 1954
Hunting for: “Something different. We still need the next big thing. Ugg, of course, and the Ugg-type boots in new colors.”
Strategy shift: “I’m going to stick with what I’ve been doing, because it seems to be working. We won’t have as much selection, but the selection we do have, we’re working to make sure it’s the best.”
View on the economy: “It seems to be picking up. We were flat for 2009 but did see an increase around the holidays with people buying shoes and socks as gifts. Customers are buying more necessities for birthdays and holidays.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “Not enough Uggs and not enough cowboy boots. Those were our hot things.”
Current bestsellers: “Tsukihoshi seems to be one of our bestsellers that just keeps on. And, of course, Ugg has just blown everybody out.”
Best price point: $55 to $60 for shoes, $100 for boots
Spring ’10 forecast: “We’re looking forward to a great year. The economy is getting better, especially in our area.”
Hottest new brand: Keen
Next big thing: “Twig has really been coming along. They’re full of color and they fit really well.”

CASTLE BOOTERY, Westfield, N.J.
Eric Graff, president
Store count: 1 (1,800 sq. ft.); est. 1940
Hunting for: “Good quality, good styling and a competitive price.”
Strategy shift:
“We’re just trying to buy better. We’re going a little tighter with our pencil, but it does depends on the item.
View on the economy: “I’m predicting a slow turn. Some days are better, but it’s really a slow grind right now.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “Let it snow early. That helped a lot for all retail around here. The seasons need to break on time.”
Current bestsellers: Saucony, Ugg
Best price point: “It depends on the quality of the boot or sneaker. As long as it’s quality and it looks nice, it’s fine.”
Spring ’10 forecast: “It’s going to be weather related. If the weather is warmer, people are happier. If it’s a bad winter, we’ll get a later push.”
Hottest new brands: “Keen for spring and Ugg for winter. And Stride Rite sells all the time, as well as Saucony.”
Next big thing: “It’s still Ugg. It’s excellent product that is evolving with the times.”

 

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