Retail Guide: Men’s Shopping List

Kenny Rubenstein, GM
Store count: 1 (12,000 sq. ft.); est. 1924
Hunting for: “Boots will continue to be strong, so I’m looking for short to tall boots. I’ll also maintain my stock fill-in position on the shoes I do well with, such as Allen Edmonds and Bruno Magli, but what I’m really looking for is unique styles.”
Strategy shift: “Focused on [improving] cash flow by maintaining a lower inventory and working on vendor stock programs. I try to fill in every week or two, even if it’s just a few pairs. I am buying a lot less up front.”
View on the economy: “We’re excited about what happened over the holidays, but we’re still nervous. It used to be you could count on things more, once there was a turnaround. But the fact that we did well for the holiday gives me hope.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “We don’t have to mark down product. We made it through the season with fewer markdowns. We essentially stayed at 25 percent off and made the same amount of sales and more profit.”
Current bestsellers: “Bruno Magli’s Raging [double-gore slip-on] is No. 1. More casual Cole Haan styles picked up during the holidays.”
Best price point: $300 range
Spring ’10 forecast: “We’re very positive, but it’s a lot more work. We have to pay attention constantly in terms of inventory, pricing and pushing those margins.”
Hottest new brands: “Sutor Mantellassi. It has great color and has been well-received. Also the new comfort collection from Moreschi.”
Next big thing: “Boots will still be very important.”

Shina Hasan, owner
Established: 2007
Hunting for: “I’m looking for a casual-type sneaker that can be dressed up or down. Also more all-white sneakers.”
Strategy shift: “Our strategy is to give customers something to come back for. We’ve tried to focus on meeting our customers’ needs.”
View on the economy: “I don’t see this thing turning around in 2010 — probably not until 2011. Business picked up some for Christmas, but nowhere near the previous year.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “People just aren’t spending like they used to.”
Current bestsellers: Roberto Guerrini, Doucal’s, Cole Haan
Best price point: “$195 to $250 for dress shoes. But I’ve sold more sneakers than anything, and those go for $395.”
Spring ’10 forecast: “I think it’s going to be fair. Sneakers will continue to do well, and we’ll do more sandals and more drivers.”
Hottest new brands: “Stefano Castelli has done well, and Magnanni is one to watch, but still the hottest brand is Roberto Guerrini. If I had only one line left, that would be the line I’d keep.”
Next big thing: “The wingtip is the hottest right now, but the next big trend in sneakers is the resurgence of the low-top.”

SHOEBIZ, San Francisco
Nooshin Esmaili, owner
Store count: 5 (avg. 3,000 sq. ft.); est. 1979
Hunting for: “Very well-constructed and a bit pricey product.”
Strategy shift: “Our open-to-buy is very conservative. Our goal is to have a high margin, even more than we did in the past. We have to understand our customers and be able to offer product that makes sense to them.”
View on the economy: “False optimism could create a huge problem for us and also for other retailers. Our consumers are very conservative in their spending, and if they have to buy [an item], it’s because they need it. The want factor is out. That’s what worries me most.” 
Lesson learned from holiday ’09: “Don’t listen to the news. Use your own intuition and your own experience.”
Current bestsellers: Frye, Timberland, Red Wing, Clarks, Toms
Best price point: $50 to $98 for shoes, $150 to $300 for boots
Spring ’10 forecast: “I’m not very optimistic. I see no reason for this economy to bounce back.”
Hottest new brand: “Bass is up and coming.”
Next big thing: “Keds could potentially be the best mid-priced brand out there. I really have a lot of faith in it.”


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