B-T-S Starts Strong in Southern States

The back-to-school season is already in full swing in the South, and footwear retailers said business is steady despite economic worries.

“It has been really busy for us,” said Joan Lawson, owner of Tot to Teen in Fort Worth, Texas. “We are in a good location, and although Fort Worth was hit by [the economic downturn] like everyone else, it didn’t seem as severe here.”

School uniform requirements, comfort and durability have been driving sales, according to retailers. Here storeowners sound off on the start to the season.

Joan Lawson, owner of Tot to Teen in Fort Worth, Texas:
“Brands selling well include Jumping Jacks saddle oxfords — these are basic school shoes, and the quality and price is very good — and Twig, one of our favorite and most successful brands. [Twig] is a high-quality shoe that’s moderately priced and also very stylish. Another of our popular brands is Amiana, which targets young girls and goes up to ladies’ sizes, so even teens with larger feet can wear age-appropriate shoes.”

Stephanie Teichner, owner of Sprong in Atlanta:
“It has been a good back-to-school season for us so far. Athletics are big — Asics, New Balance, Geox, Tsukihoshi — because schools require them for athletics, and also because of their comfort and durability. Kids wear them day in and day out. Converse, Skechers Twinkle Toes that light up, and anything with a neon lace is big. For girls, Mary Jane styles are also always popular.”

Eddie Quintana, owner of Sesame Step Children’s Shoes in Miami:
“My sales are up 30 percent for the back-to-school season. We had two other store closures in this area, so we might be picking up some of the overflow from those. We carry a lot of fashion goods, but we also cater to a lot of private schools, and we acquired two more of those this season. We do big Nike business. What also retails well is New Balance because they have really reinvented themselves with bold colors and a much more attractive design, more geared toward kids.”

Stephanie Hayes, sales associate at J-Ray Shoes in Mobile, Ala.
“It has been very busy, and sales have been great. Most of our student customers have to wear uniforms, so we sell a lot of Willits saddle oxfords, Dirty Bucks and Jumping Jacks. For pre-kindergarten and others who don’t have to wear uniforms, we sell a lot of New Balance because they come in a variety of widths and styles, and they have really good arch support. In terms of styles, Mary Jane shoes are popular with girls because they’re a little more feminine than laceups.”

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