Retail Guide: Athletic Shopping List

BODEGA, Boston
Jay Gordon, co-owner
Store count: 1 (1,200 sq. ft.); est. 2006
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “Into private-label products. We sell them in our store and wholesale them under the BDGA label. It’s fun stuff that helps us communicate with the consumer better.”
Buying strategy: “[We’re going] a little lighter and [picking up] more smart-casual [looks].”
Biggest challenge: “Our inventory levels. We’re trying to walk that fine line of having enough but not going crazy. A couple of years ago, we bought everything from everybody and we were lucky to be able to sell it, but the market has changed and we have to pick and choose better.”
View on the economy: “We’re feeling cautiously optimistic.”
Current bestsellers: “Bodega collaborations, with companies such as Puma and Lacoste, that are limited and usually gone within a day.”
Hottest new brands: Pointer, Yuketen
Best price point: $85
Spring ’11 forecast: “There’s been a cleanup, both among brands and stores. Unfortunately, a lot of guys have gone out of business, but the guys who are left are lean and mean. It’s a good thing in that there’s less clutter out there.”
Next big thing: “Chukka boots. They’re coming back.”

TJ Bruzek, manager
Store count: 3 (avg. 1,250 sq. ft.); est. 1997
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “Neutral cushion footwear and racing flats.”
Buying strategy: “We overbook orders and 
cancel if we have to.”
Biggest challenge: “Getting enough product in hot styles.”
View on the economy: “Right now, it’s good in our industry, but we think it will be scary in 2012, when shoe costs go up.”
Current bestsellers: Vibram Bikila, Saucony Guide, Asics 2150, Brooks Adrenaline, Nike Vomero
Hottest new brand: Vibram Five Fingers
Best price point: $100
Spring ’11 forecast: “We’re predicting 10 percent growth.”
Next big thing: “This whole barefoot running thing. Vibram is the leader, but [I think we’ll see] other companies coming out with [their own] barefoot running ideas.”

NEXT, Cleveland
Steve Silver, co-owner
Store count: 3 (avg. 2,800 sq. ft.); est. 1996
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “Nike looks fantastic for next year. There’s going to be a good push for running. I see running silhouettes pushing out some of the basketball silhouettes.”
Buying strategy: “Tight and right. We’re taking fewer risks, finding the right products and buying closer to season. Still, I’m always looking for the next new thing — products that will excite customers.”
Biggest challenge: “Predicting the unpredictable. Consumer spending and shopping habits are very unpredictable, which makes it hard when you’re budgeting dollars. In the past, we could get into a rhythm, but these days, it’s very uncertain.”
View on the economy: “I hear good things, but at ground level it’s still a battle.”
Current bestsellers: “Nike is very strong for us, as are PF Flyers, Vans, Supra and Pro-Keds. Those brands are carrying the weight right now.”
Hottest new brand: Pro-Keds. “We had the brand years ago, but it’s gone through changes, and it’s being repositioned. We’ve carried it again for about a year, and we’re really starting to see success with it.”
Best price point: $50 to $70 for canvas. “That seems to be a really high-volume price point.”
Spring ’11 forecast: “That’s a mystery. I’m confident in our strategy and our partnership with Nike, and in some of the silhouettes that will become relevant in terms of running.”
Next big thing: “I’m really interested in [Vibram] Five Fingers. I hear [it took off like] gangbusters, so that’s one I’m very curious about.”

Access exclusive content