Retail Guide: Women’s Shopping List

Elena Brennan, owner
Store count: 1 (1,000 sq. ft.); est. 2007
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “I’m always looking for collections with as much color as possible because we need that after our long winters.”
Buying strategy: “I like to offer a variety of different options, heel heights, textures and colors. I’m also trying to incorporate some lower price points for those on a budget.”
Biggest challenge: “As a small-business owner, it’s keeping up with everything, like the public relations, marketing and trends.”
View on the economy: “It’s getting better. Women are spending money on shoes again. It’s a great way to lift your spirits.”
Current bestsellers: Irregular Choice, Farylrobin, Fly London
Hottest new brand: “United Nude for its sexy, colorful designs and architectural [shapes].”
Best price point: $100 to $150
Spring ’11 forecast: “I’m hoping it continues to get better. After the rough start with the bad winter and the economy, this spring was amazing. But it’s very weather-dependent.”
Next big thing: “I have been getting more requests for attractive, affordable vegan shoes.”

SHOEFLY, Arlington, Va.
Jennifer Marfino, owner
Store count: 3 (avg. 1,500 sq. ft.); est. 2003
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “I’m putting it into products that will get customers excited. Customers are constantly searching for a mid-wedge or mid-heel, as well as finding comfortable shoes that can bring them through the office, the metro and out after work. The Jambu brand seems to fit that need.”
Buying strategy: “We look for unique, yet wearable, good-quality products at reasonable prices.”
Biggest challenge: “It has been [an ongoing] challenge getting inventory on time or at all. Through the recession, I saw vendors purchasing stock cautiously and producing less product. That has affected what’s available to us.”
View on the economy: “I’m glad I’m in the shoe industry in a down economy. I believe ladies always make room in the budget for shoes and lipstick.”
Current bestsellers: Miz Mooz, Seychelles, Jeffrey Campbell
Hottest new brand: “We are really looking forward to the first season of Big Buddha.”
Best price point: “We have Blowfish for $40 and Frye for $328, but the heart of our range is $60 to $120.”
Spring ’11 forecast: “I think spring will bring what we’ve been seeing for the past few seasons, with [people looking to] buy two pairs for $80 instead of one for $160. I see practicality.”
Next big thing: “We try not to chase the next big thing. We just try to stay one step ahead of the trends that will be so big they’ll be all over the mall.”

CRIMSON MIM, Los Altos, Calif.
Christine Campbell, owner
Store count: 1 (900 sq. ft.); est. 2005
Where you’re putting your money for spring: “We always look for great 2-inch heel heights, which are typically difficult to find. But they sell like crazy.”
Buying strategy: “We try to introduce products we know our customers don’t have, but that are in the same category of what they like. We also try to do different materials and colorways with a lot of lines — if the designers are willing — to set our store apart.”
Biggest challenge: “It used to be you would never want to run out of inventory. Now, taking on too much inventory is more of a risk than not having enough.”
View on the economy: “It’s still tough. We have to keep an eye on managing our business and not get overly optimistic and order too much inventory, because this recovery is really slow. I want to be hopeful, but I also have to be prudent.”
Current bestsellers: Chie Mihara, Butter, Loeffler Randall, Anyi Lu
Hottest new brands: Rachel Comey, Attilio Giusti Leombruni
Best price point: $200 to $350
Spring ’11 forecast: “I think it will continue to grow in the single digits, as it has been since last year.”
Next big thing: “More Rachel Comey for spring. She is reaching that tipping point of critical-mass recognition in the marketplace, and our customers love her product.”

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