Outdoor Shoe Retailers Reveal Top Selling Styles & More

Outdoor Retailer
Inside an Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City.
Jennie Bell.

Buyers heading to this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market are hatching their plans for next spring.

While some told FN that they’re willing to take risks on new brands and styles, others plan to stick with their current, proven product offerings.

But many agree that sport sandals and trail runners will lead the season again. Read on to see how retailers aim to make spring ’16 a stellar season.

Sean Scales
SVP of sales, Shoebuy.com

Top Sellers: “We’re seeing good business in performance sandals from Teva and Chaco, and there’s a nice resurgence in trail running — generally, styles that are more suited for mud runs. Mud runs are revitalizing the category, even though people tend to trash their shoes in some of the obstacle races they’re doing. If there’s one brand that does best for us, I’d say Salomon.

Spring ’16 Buying Strategy: “In a nutshell, lighter, faster and color is what I’m looking for. Even Merrell has taken the Moab, which has been around for years, and freshened it up. Brighter [looks] are being embraced more, so you’re now seeing red, green, fluorescents.”

Overall Business Outlook: “I’m a buyer, so I’m always going to be positive. There’s a continued swing to get outdoors and take care of yourself. As long as that keeps happening, people are going to keep investing in gear to do that better.”

Doug Gellman
Hardgoods, paddle sports and footwear buyer, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Madison, N.J.

Top Sellers: Oboz, Chaco, Merrell

Spring ’16 Buying Strategy: “Continue with what sells best for us. I’m also always looking for new trends. We’re going to continue with low-cut trail shoes because they sell the best. Sandals for spring are big for us, too.”

Overall Business Outlook: “We’re looking to have a healthy 2016. We had an ownership change, so a lot of things are in flux, but they’re improving.”

Heather Lansdowne
Operations manager, Pathfinder, Morgantown, W.V.

Top Sellers: “We’re selling Chaco like crazy. We’ve carried it for years, but there’s been a huge spike. We also sell a lot of Oboz boots. They’ve taken over most our shoe business.”

Spring ’16 Buying Strategy: “We’re fairly conservative in that we typically go with what has done well in the past. We rarely take a risk on a brand-new product that hasn’t been proven. Our strategy is to continue doing more of the same.”

Overall Business Outlook: “Things are good. I know that for many brick-and-mortar stores, there’s a lot of doom and gloom. But Pathfinder is up for the year, and footwear is up, so everything is good.”

Jon Zalinski
Owner, Treadz Shoes, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Top Sellers: “Keen is a good one, Chaco sandals sell consistently well and OluKai is kind of the newcomer — they’re branching more into the female market. It seems like they have the men’s market figured out. People are trying it on and they like how it fits.”

Spring ’16 Buying Strategy: “Comfort and color seem to be the two things that are driving sales, so we’ll have a little more color on the wall besides just brown and the darker colors.”

Overall Business Outlook: “We have good momentum. We’ve had a large number of people traveling to Colorado, since we had a wet spring and there’s hardly any fire danger right now. That’s bringing a lot of people to town.”

Jay Kozel
Manager, Back Country, Des Moines, Iowa

Top Sellers: “Oboz continues to be our top performer in technical footwear, and we brought in a line new to us — Salewa — that was very successful. In Oboz, the Sawtooth platform does the best. In Salewa, we only brought it in on the men’s side, but the Alp Flow hiking boot did well.”

Spring ’16 Buying Strategy: “One of the big moves will be to bring Salewa in on the women’s side, which is usually a little bit more European, more of a technical look than we tend to go for. Otherwise, I don’t think we’re going to make any huge moves. Continuing to search for a casual assortment that works for us will be big because that’s always a challenge.”

Overall Business Outlook: “Footwear has been a strong category for us the last couple of years. We look at those monthly reports, and shoes are a bigger chunk. For us, an emphasis on styles that are hard to find in our area and unique in our market will be paramount.”