Independents Aim to Spark Fall Buying

Fall product is starting to hit store shelves as much of the U.S. continues to experience record heat levels. As a result, footwear independents are developing ways to lure customers into their stores and put them in a cool-weather state of mind.

While still in the middle of spring selling, Crimson Mim in Los Altos, Calif., generates early buzz for fall merchandise online. The shop recently posted images of Bettye Muller’s fall line on its Facebook page and website. “We posted a shot of Bettye’s shoes on the factory line and when they finally arrive, customers are ready,” said Christine Campbell, the store’s president. “We have a lot of customers who are very interested in new merchandise.”

In addition, the store is about to kick off its Summer Series Thursday, when Campbell and guest speakers host bimonthly chats about fashion-related topics such as “Packing Made Easy.” “We want to get customers in the store when it’s a quiet time, and we’ll give them a discount to shop for fall.”

Terri Holley said her store, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Embellish, also relies on social media to get the word out on the new lines. For example, added the owner, an in-store display was created to showcase fall handbags, and photos of the presentations were posted on Facebook.

“Early buyers are more loyal customers,” she said, noting she also called her Stuart Weitzman customers about the arrival of a certain fall boot. She’s even texted some with a photo of the boot, offering to hold their size until they can stop in.

At Dardano’s in Denver, GM Brittany Dardano sends frequent newsletters to announce the arrival of fall goods and also promotes them on the store’s Facebook page. “We post pictures and information about the shoes,” said Dardano.

The store will also offer discounts on new merchandise. “We prefer not to do it,” said Dardano, “so we play it by ear with our promotions.”

Still, getting shoppers interested in fall product has been especially difficult this year. “With this record heat, consumers are saying no to fall [goods],” said Ivan Davidowitz, owner of Arch Comfort in Kingston, Pa. “They’re looking for summer sales.”

To combat this, Davidowitz brought in some spring items late in the season to be showcased as transitional looks. Included in the mix is a bootie from Neosens selling at full price. And while the store traditionally carries fall product mid-August, it’s now previewing a fall fleece-lined look from Toms.

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