Retail Guide: Women’s Shopping List

Los Angeles
Store count: 7 (average 3,000 sq. ft.); est. 1989
Mark Goldstein, CEO

HUNTING FOR: “Wedges, cute flats and short booties. Color is definitely back.”
BUYING STRATEGY: “It should be similar [to last spring], but it depends on how good the collections look.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: Pedro Garcia wedges, Tkees flip-flops and Madison private-label booties and ballet flats.
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “Color. Not sure about shapes at this point.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “We’re not going forward with over-the-top expensive sandals in excess of $1,000. Also, [we’re staying away from] man-tailored oxfords.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “[For fall], we have put together a strong grouping of boots, primarily short shafted, and they will drive strong sales. The economy in Los Angeles seems a bit sluggish, however.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We’re still buying good product and doing promotions with magazines during sale months to drive traffic.”

Vero Beach, Fla., and Stuart, Fla.
Store count: 2 (average 3,000 sq. ft.); est. 1959
Meg Offutt, co-owner

HUNTING FOR: “We’re looking for fresh new styles for ladies over 25, particularly sandals. There are so many high heels out there, but we’re looking for styles that are a bit more wearable.”
BUYING STRATEGY: “We’ll probably stay close to last year’s open-to-buy, but bring in shoes a little earlier than we did last year. I’m planning to budget myself the same, but hopefully we’ll be able to reorder and reorder.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: “Paul Mayer’s ballet flats. They all sell very well, but the best seller is Cozy. Also, Luisa D’Orio ornamented sandals, a thong with a tortoise ornament.”
BEST PRICE POINT: $79 to $198
HOTTEST NEW BRANDS: “The tried-and-true did well for us last year — Cole Haan, Donald J Pliner, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman, Amalfi. We’d love to discover a fresh new designer this year.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “If I had to pick one thing, it would be espadrilles of all kinds. They are perfect Florida shoes.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “Anything man-tailored, masculine or heavy-looking.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “As retailers, we are cautiously optimistic about the coming fall season, as we always are.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We still use old-fashioned ideas, such as thank-you notes and personally calling customers. We also advertise in the newspaper and on radio for special events and sales, which we keep to a minimum.”

Los Angeles and Newport Beach, Calif.
Store count: 2 (average 17,500 sq. ft.); est. 1985
Courtney Rotolo, shoe buyer

HUNTING FOR: “I’ve spent the past several seasons building up existing brands. [But] our customers are ready to see a fresh perspective mixed in among the classics.”
BUYING STRATEGY: “I was treading lightly the past few seasons because our business was still rebounding, but I feel more confident going into 2012 and plan to buy slightly more.”
SHOES YOU CAN’T KEEP IN STOCK: “Rachel Comey’s Penpal and Mars ankle boots perform well year-round. Fiorentini & Baker’s triple-buckle boot has been on my orders for as long as I’ve been buying for American Rag. From Dolce Vita, this season it was the Marcela loafer.”
BEST PRICE POINT: $98 to $250 for shoes; $250 to $550 for boots yearround
HOTTEST NEW BRANDS: Officine Creative, Elizabeth & James, Nylo and Hudson
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE BETTING ON: “We’ll continue to see the ankle-boot trend for women becoming a staple for the wardrobe year-round. We’ll also see cleaner lines, with an emphasis on leather and colors that are slightly off: not quite black, not quite gray or brown.”
SPRING ’12 TREND YOU’RE PASSING ON: “What I categorize as ladies ‘dress’ shoes have always been a bit challenging for our stores. Anything with a major heel or major height, I tend to steer clear of. It’s fun to touch on lightly, but no major dollars go in that direction.”
MOOD AT RETAIL: “This past spring has been a slow climb upward, and I’m encouraged by how customers are buying. There will be great options as far as important fall trends, price points and classic silhouettes.”
WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY: “We’ve really seen our online business grow, and a lot of promotion has gone to this through our Facebook page.
We also just put a banner advertising the website on our store windows.”

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