Retail Guide: Athletic Shopping List

Los Angeles
Store count: 1 (1,000 sq. ft.); est. 2003
Melvin Tam, retail manager

HUNTING FOR: “We always welcome young and hungry new brands, especially those with a story. There’s been a great move back to the basics and toward classic styles. We’ll also be looking for more retro styling.”
BUYING STRATEGY: “We’ll definitely be purchasing more. Our customer base has grown, and we’ve become more of a destination spot.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: “Native, which is based on classic and casual silhouettes. [They’re] made of comfortable and lightweight materials; they’re for anybody, anywhere, anytime.”
HOTTEST NEW BRANDS: “Toms Shoes is new for us, and we have a lot of classic styles and colorways from Nike and Asics that sell very well.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “We still see the focus being on basics and essentials. The classic styles with a little flair, such as better materials, comfort and performance, are really what our customers are looking for.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “Our customer base doesn’t respond the same way to super-limited collaborations and crazy colorways. They’re going for toned-down colors in shoes with form and function.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “We’ve seen a growth of around 25 percent overall, plus we’ll be expanding to service a larger region, especially on the west side of Los Angeles, so we’re very optimistic.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We’re using social media more, along with promotional events and customer incentives. But most important for us is emphasizing customer service, whether online or in person.”

Store count: 74 (average 3,800 sq. ft.); est. 1982
Todd Kirssin, DMM of footwear

HUNTING FOR: “We’re looking to expand our mix with core athletic brands. We’re also creating [exclusive product] with these vendors to differentiate us and drive energy.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: “Men’s retro Jordans, Nike Foamposites and Adidas Superstar White.”
BEST PRICE POINT: “Men’s: $120-plus; kids’: $55 to $65. Women’s is challenging at all price points.”
HOTTEST NEW BRANDS: “Our staple brands are doing a better job servicing our core customer. In the past few years we had some great new brands, but they have all died off.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “The retro cross-training category from Nike is killing it, and we think it only gets stronger with upcoming models and colors.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “The whole minimalist footwear trend. Our customer wants more for his money, not less.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “We’re very optimistic for fall. We had an unbelievable spring and are projecting big increases for the summer.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We have in-store events with the latest artists almost on a weekly basis when they drop a new CD. We’ll have crowds waiting outside the doors. That’s how we drive a lot of traffic.”

Red Bank, N.J.
Store count: 1 (700 sq. ft.); est. 2007
DJ Senatore, co-owner

HUNTING FOR: “Nike [is] the dominant brand in our industry, and it is extremely difficult to get. We have tried for years and no luck, but to really get us where we want to be and make this a profitable business, we need to have Nike.”
BUYING STRATEGY: “We’ll be buying about the same as last spring. After we moved at the beginning of 2010, we cut a lot of lines that were not performing well. In this economic time, we have to be smart with the brands we put our money into.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: “Reebok Pumps, Saucony Shadows and Vans.”
BEST PRICE POINT: $50 to $85
HOTTEST NEW BRANDS: “Although it’s not a new brand in the marketplace, for us it is definitely Vans.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “Retro styles continue to perform well. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so we’re betting on retro models in new colorways and new materials.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “Higher-price-point runners. It’s hard to sell a technical shoe at a higher price than a fashion-based sneaker. We aren’t against the style at all, but we have to be careful with what we choose to bring in.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “Things are starting to come back around, slowly but surely. People are spending a bit more, and customers are coming back in more frequently.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We give out loyalty cards that are just like a credit card. We swipe them with every purchase, and for every $100 [customers] spend, they receive $10 on the card to use for future purchases.”

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