Retail Guide: Children’s Shopping List

SOLE FOOD, Seattle
Amie Morales, store manager/buyer
Store count: 1 (2,200 sq. ft.); est. 2003

Hunting for: “We focus on finding quality lines where durability meets function and style. We love fun colors and attention-grabbers, such as glow-in-the-dark [styles], monster prints and sparkles.”

Buying strategy: “We are upping our quantities and listening to our kids’ requests. We’ll continue to buy more to ensure our customers have the selection they want.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Native Shoes’ Jefferson style, which features animal-free, waterproof, shock-absorbent, washable and odor-resistant features. Also See Kai Run’s Kai collection.”

Best price point: “The best price point for us is probably for our Toms Shoes kids’ selection. With a starting price of $30 and the adorable colors and designs, it’s hard to keep sizes in stock, especially anything with glitter for girls.”

Hottest new brands: “We are really excited to introduce the Tsukihoshi sneaker line to our customers because of all its great features, including a light and flexible fit, balanced landing technology, arch support and barefoot-like comfort.”

Spring ’13 trend you’re betting on: “A lot of fun neon colors — bright pinks, oranges, greens — in various styles.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: We typically partner with different vendors to build awareness about special product. We also offer a Facebook special every Wednesday.

JAY’S SHOE BOX, Livingston, N.J.
David Hill, principal buyer
Store count: 1 (1,400 sq. ft.); est. 1954

Hunting for: “We’re looking for better boys’ shoes. We’re into brights and hot popping colors for fall, so if it continues into spring, we’ll just look to upgrade it.”

Buying strategy: “Business is good enough for us to uptick our inventory for next spring, or at the bare minimum buy on par with the previous corresponding season.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “There is not one particular Crocs style that we can keep in stock. And Converse’s classic All-Star, both high and low for boys and girls, [is selling well].”

Best price point: $35 to $60

Hottest new brands: “A very hot new brand for boys and girls is Garvalin because it offers incredible quality and craftsmanship. And a brand that has been on fire since we brought it into the store is Superga.”

Spring ’13 trend you’re betting on: “Color will continue everywhere.”

Spring ’13 trend you’re passing on: “We’re not going to go back to a lot of high-heeled platform sandals for girls because we found they weren’t a great investment.”

Mood at retail: “We’re very excited. We have great product coming in, our consumer base is very excited, and we’re looking forward to a great season.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We have several promotions on Facebook where we raffle off gift certificates for our store. We also do coupons in local booklets and other local magazines, and we do in-store promotions all the time.”

WAGNER’S SHOES FOR KIDS, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Matt Wagner, owner
Store count: 1 (2,000 sq. ft.); est. 1953

Hunting for: “We’ll be looking for great-fitting boys’ and girls’ sandals that are in fun colors, as well as boys’ driving mocs with a less-bulky sole.”

Buying strategy: “We are buying more. Business is growing and we will expand our selection even more. We will be looking for new, fun brands to add to our current styles.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Toms Shoes’ seasonal patterns feature a lot of fun colors for both girls and boys, and the Keen Newport II is a great-fitting shoe that is water-friendly and appropriate to wear to school.”

Best price point: $30 to $50

Hottest new brands: “Sanuk has great-looking sandals and casual shoes at good price points. [We also do well with] Brooks’ running styles for kids, and Livie & Luca, which is not really new but continues to grow for us. They fit kids’ feet well.”

Spring ’13 trend you’re betting on: “We really like the driving moc. We had huge success with the Umi Morie and are looking to expand.”

Spring ’13 trend you’re passing on: “We’ll pass on the gladiator sandals, any overly dressy sandals and we’re backing off on girls’ closed-toe dress/casual styles.”

Mood at retail: “We’re very optimistic going into spring. Customers are still looking for value, but are more willing to buy multiple pairs.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “Aside from always trying to offer the best customer service, we are expanding our social media campaign but will remain focused on grassroots efforts.”