Merrell Milestone: Retailers Sound Off

“Merrell has been a significant partner for REI for many years. It’s one of the most reliable footwear vendors we do business with. They deliver high-quality products that our customers love and they deliver on time. They stay ahead of the competition by constantly inventing or evolving new technologies in their performance footwear. They stay relevant in their lifestyle products to keep ahead of the marketplace. They’re committed to increasing outdoor participation and give back generously to the community and the outdoor industry and they make doing business easy and fun.”
— Denise Friend, DMM, REI

“What makes Merrell such a strong brand is the product. They really have a terrific range for casual lifestyle. We’re having a terrific winter season with Merrell right now, and they were a strong enough vendor for us that, when we opened our new store in April, we decided to test some of the outerwear. We haven’t done apparel in years and I felt that they were great partners and I liked the product they were making. It was more fashionable than most of the outdoor vendors and it has worked for us. One thing I’m particularly excited about is the barefoot product they’re launching for spring. We already have a business with Vibram and we’re excited that they’ve teamed up for this launch.”
— Peter Hanig, owner, Hanig’s Footwear

“We’ve been with Merrell since before the first delivery of the Jungle Moc. They’ve been a great partner to us because they deliver on their promises, both to us and to our consumers. They have a very loyal consumer following. When a customer walks into Tip Top, he or she goes for Merrell because of the quality, comfort and purity of product.”
— Danny Wasserman, owner, Tip Top Shoes

“Last year was our first full year with the brand on Zappos.com. Even though we just got started with them, we’ve had tremendous customer demand. I don’t think of them as an outdoor brand; I just think of them as a great lifestyle brand. They really tapped into a number of other areas. They’ve got great niches in little areas. Some of the heritage product that’s probably been very strong for them in the last decade is still very strong for us. The Jungle Moc is one of our top men’s performers. They really are terrific partners. Product is king because if the product’s not good, it won’t matter how strong the partnership is. They definitely go hand-in-hand. As we’ve seen our business grow, it’s been in large part due to them and the support they’ve given us.”
— Jeanne Markel, director of casual lifestyle, Zappos.com

“Merrell is run like a small family business, so it never feels like we’re dealing with a big corporation. What sets them apart is that they’re all about improving our store and not just about selling product. They’re an incredible partner because they’re very open to suggestions. They send reps into our store all the time and they always want to know what we need and how they can do things better. They listen to our feedback on product — how to sell it and how to market it, if they should make it waterproof or if they should add a color. ”
— Joel Sigel, owner, Little’s Shoes

“[Merrell’s] reputation in terms of quality is very strong. Having Wolverine take over has certainly strengthened the brand in terms of delivery and building better-quality product. One of the strengths that Merrell has is its resources. Being owned by such a large company, they’re able to do so many things on the production side because of the volume that they do with Wolverine. Merrell adds the lifestyle element to Gazelle Sports’ product mix, even though it still has an outdoor feel to it. They’ve done a good job of marrying things together with the outdoor product. The awareness that that brings to the outdoor industry as a whole is making a difference as well.”
— Ken Sung, buyer, Gazelle Sports

“Consumers get what they’re paying for with Merrell product. It is really our best outdoor resource. They’re our No. 1 brand in that hiking/crossover category. They’ve also expanded in other categories, such as casual, but their dominance has been in outdoor. The value relationship of what the consumer is getting in comparison with what the retail price points are really set them apart from others in the category. Merrell builds a pretty superior product as far as the prices they offer.”
— Brian Wilkinson, buyer, Tradehome Shoes

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