Retail Guide: Women’s Shopping List

Gabriela Valenzuela, co-owner
Store count: 16 (500 to 5,000 sq. ft.,); est. 2010

Hunting for: “Vintage styles with richer fabrics. We’re seeing some people playing with crushed velvets and typical velvets, as well as stonewashed treatments to look old and vintage.”

Buying strategy: “We’ll be buying around the same [amount]. Also, since the majority of our inventory is Italian, it’s a bit harder to get ahold of, so we usually order a good amount of merchandise.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Happiness Golden Rock zip-up high-top sneaker — it comes in an array of colors with a side zip. It is suede and leather with a terry lining. Also, Happiness velvet loafers with a rock ’n’ roll emblem.”

Best price point: $189 for shoes

Hottest new brands: Eiman Hamza, LaLa Land, Happiness

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “Rich jewel tones, deep luxurious colors bringing opulence to any item, creating a more vintage old Hollywood feel. Also, the heel is getting smaller — it’s not so much about a high heel anymore.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re passing on: “Pale colors. It’s time to bring more luxury back into fashion, even with just a pop of color. In a time of economic crisis, we’re tired of seeing pale, somber colors. We need vibrant colors to catch our attention.”

Mood at retail: “[We’re] optimistic about bringing in new lines and hopefully generating a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We’re constantly working on Facebook and Twitter, posting pictures and styles we have in the store. We also change our windows every week and create a cool, eclectic environment with our music playlist and lighting.”

SHOEFITS, Houma, La. & Lafayette, La.
Jodi Webb, owner
Store count: 2 (average 2,700 sq. ft.); est. 2004

Hunting for: “We’ll be hunting for a lot of Western boots. We couldn’t keep them in stock this past fall. Our customers seem to be shifting toward mid-wedge boots. As far as color, we love the neutrals.”

Buying strategy: “We’ll keep the same budgets as last year and, for the most part, our buying will be the same, just smarter. Our customers are very brand savvy and they typically come into our store for a specific line.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Volatile has been our No. 1 flip-flop or sandal every year since our opening. Me Too is our spotlight comfort shoe and the provider of our favorite flats. Arturo Chiang was our No. 1 boot vendor last fall.”

Best price point: $99

Hottest new brands: “Valdini has been a major hit for us because the boots are made with waterproof materials. Antelope also has been a total win for us.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “Western … and lots of it. It doesn’t matter what the price is because we’re selling out through all price [points]. We’re also betting big on flats because of the trend in women’s sportswear and the skinny-leg jeans.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re passing on: “Huge platform pumps. Our customers have tried it and complained about the height and the comfort issue. We’re also passing on the flat scrunch boots.”

Mood at retail: “It’s positive and fun in [terms of] both trends and attitudes. We truly feel that 2012 has great things in store for us.”

What you’re doing to get people to buy: “We send out bulk emails to 14,000 of our customers each week. We also use Facebook to keep an open relationship with our customers. We award our top customers with Diva Awards, which are delivered to their homes.”

KICK, La Crosse, Wis.
Andrea Poukey, co-owner
Store count: 1 (4,500 sq. ft.); est. 2007

Hunting for: “Flats, interesting metallics and to-the-knee boots with a wearable heel. We’re also looking for a new rubber boot line because we think our customer wants to go back to a more utilitarian line with a little bit of fun.”

Buying strategy: “We’ll be bringing in more boots because we simply couldn’t keep them in stock last fall. We’re always on the hunt for winter shoes, flat leather boots and weatherproof winter boots that are still stylish.”

Shoes you can’t keep in stock: “Any 2-inch heel by Tsubo, and the fun, quirky embellished heels by Poetic Licence, such as Charm School.”

Best price point: $130 for heels and flats; around $300 for boots

Hottest new brands: “We picked up Earthies and Miz Mooz for spring, so we are eager to see what both companies will offer for this fall. Also, Sorel for a seriously fun winter boot.”

Fall ’12 trend you’re betting on: “Platform heels. Our customers wouldn’t be happy if we took away the comfort of a platform. We’re confident [enough] to bring in a silhouette that no one is doing if we love it.”

Mood at retail: We have a positive outlook. Spring in the Midwest is energizing. Consumers are ready for change, color and to see their toes again.

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