Shop Talk: Converse Head West… French Sole Expands

Converse Hits West Coast
Converse last week unveiled its third branded store in the U.S. — it’s first on the West Coast, in Santa Monica, Calif. Located in the Third Street Promenade shopping district, the new 7,000-sq.-ft. store is focused on customization for shoppers in footwear, apparel and accessories. “With this store, Converse hopes to give customers the opportunity to unleash their creative spirit by taking customization to the next level and making our merchandise their own,” CEO and President Jim Calhoun said in a statement. “We look forward to offering our most expansive product assortment yet and an unparalleled shopping experience that truly celebrates our customers’ originality.” A customization station in the store allows consumers to use more than 150 graphics on their products.
French Sole Expands
French Sole is keeping its retail momentum going. This month, the brand unveiled a 1,350-sq.-ft. store in the upscale community of Greenwich, Conn. According to owner Randy Ochart, “We opened a comfort store [in New York] a few years ago and it’s been a big success, [creating opportunities for expansion].” The brand also bowed a location in New Orleans in October. The new Greenwich store will carry French Sole’s wholesale line of signature ballet styles under the FS/NY label, in addition to a concise offering of luxe comfort brands that include Dana Davis and Anyi Lu. “Our wholesale business doubled in 2011 over 2010,” said Ochart. “We always have an available inventory and can also capitalize on our open-stock program.”
Karavel Shoes to Bow Two Doors
Austin, Texas-based Karavel Shoe Stores, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is opening two new doors in March. They include a 2,000-sq.-ft. Karavel Shoes comfort store and a New Balance shop, which will open adjacent to each other in the Southpark Meadows shopping center in Austin. Currently, the company operates a mega 15,000-sq.-ft. location in Austin that is composed of Karavel Shoes, Karavel Men’s, Karavel Wellness Center, an outlet store and New Balance and Ecco shops.

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