Milestone: Retailers Cheer Wolverine

Top merchants weigh in on their partnerships with Wolverine’s new and longest-standing brands.

Scott Meden
EVP & GMM of shoes, Nordstrom

“What’s great about Sperry Top-Sider is how they work closely with our teams in a collaborative way and are on top of all details and communication to help us build the best product assortment possible for our customers. They continually move their product forward with fresh colors and materials on classic patterns, and with new items that take the brand beyond the boat. Sperry is a brand with an incredible heritage and a casual style that our customers love.”

Denise Friend
Product manager for footwear, REI
“More than any other supplier, [Wolverine has] the pulse of the end consumer, an ability to design product that meets their needs and a supply chain that consistently delivers high-quality product on time. This is a retailer’s dream. Our total Wolverine business has increased with its strategic acquisitions of brands such as Saucony and Chaco. All these brands are central to our core outdoor business, add to our overall volume and bring authenticity to the marketplace.”

Jeff Esperson
GM of footwear & accessories, Zappos.com

“[Wolverine has] always been there to support us in growing our business. They’re true partners who want to build a long-term partnership with us. They are ethical, honest and truly care about us as a retailer. The brands fit well with what our strengths are in footwear — that is, [a large] selection and [range of] sizes in the best brands in the industry. They are leaders in the outdoor, children’s, specialty running, work, performance and fashion categories.”

Tim Belk
Chairman & CEO, Belk Inc.

“Sperry Top-Sider has been a strong partner for Belk by offering a distinct product mix in both men’s and women’s casual footwear. The brand has a broad appeal across a large age group and is popular not only in coastal cities but also on college campuses across our footprint. Sperry is unique in the way it injects fashion and color, with a high level of quality, across its lines over the seasons. There are many boat shoes in the market, but given a choice, Sperry is the first choice of our consumers.”

Ted Kushion
Running footwear category manager, Gazelle Sports

“With the headquarters just up the road from our Grand Rapids, Mich., store, we see the faces behind the Wolverine brands in our neighborhoods, at our local events and many of them are like family. This fosters a unique business relationship, where ideas bounced around over a couple of beers can snowball into a comprehensive marketing collaboration. Our customers witness Wolverine’s passion for the outdoors and our community every day as runners and bikers flock to the Merrell Trail. We share a common commitment to improving the health of our consumers by providing products that allow them to get the most joy out of their outdoor experience.”

Peter Hanig
Owner, Hanig’s Footwear

“We’ve built a pretty strong casual and outdoor business with Wolverine. They’ve got a great group of people, and most companies come down to that. Our relationship with them is great because they’re genuinely interested in us as a customer. They treat us with respect and care, and they listen to us. They’ve been good partners over the years. Hush Puppies was a very large part of our business. Over the past 15 years, Merrell has been a dramatic part of the business. They’ve also helped us develop new areas. For instance, the Cushe brand has [evolved into] an alternative lifestyle brand, which has added another dimension to our business.”

Danny Wasserman
Owner, Tip Top Shoes

“We depend on Wolverine for a good percentage of our business across women’s, men’s and children’s. Now they have a more diversified portfolio of products [we can choose from]. The management always shows interest in our needs. One thing I know is, when I place an order, it will arrive on time with the same quality [as always].”