Firms Respond to Flooding in Tennessee

NEW YORK — Tennesee footwear players are still reeling from the devastating floods that hit the region earlier this month.

While the footwear retailers and vendors contacted did not suffer any direct harm to their stores or headquarters, sources interviewed said the conditions will definitely impact overall operations.

“It will take tourism out of the picture. Several of the large tourism attractions, [such as] the Opryland Hotel, [were destroyed], and you will probably have a fairly significant impact this summer,” said Mike Crosno, president and CEO of Mephisto, based in Franklin, Tenn. “Reducing the number of tourists will naturally hurt the retail business.”

Also, one of the brand’s shipments was delayed because the trucks were unable to reach the warehouse, said Crosno.

David Parker Shoes, located in the Cool Springs Galleria in Franklin, remained intact, but stores on the opposite side of the mall, including Macy’s, were damaged. Down the line, the store might offer special sales to encourage consumers to shop again, said owner David Parker.

“We really don’t know how it’s going to affect business. So far it has been quite dead,” Parker said. “We’re just taking it as it comes. [We] can’t force people to go out and go shopping.”

In response to the flooding, Nashville, Tenn.-based Genesco Inc. created the “Genesco Employee Emergency Fund” with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, allowing employees to apply for grants. “We were fortunate that none of our major facilities were [destroyed] … but many of our employees’ homes have sustained serious damage,” said Chairman, President and CEO Bob Dennis.

To assist with relief efforts, Soles4Souls, also based in Nashville, will deliver 85,000 pairs of shoes to local residents starting today. And later this week, it will host a water and food drive, while a “giving campaign” (especially for children’s product) will continue throughout the year.

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