3 Questions for Sperry’s Marty Marstiller

Sperry Top-Sider is updating its look.

On July 26, the Lexington, Mass.-based nautical brand will unveil a new retail concept in Natick, Mass., that has a new generation of shoppers in mind.

“There’s much broader appeal [for our brand] among teenagers and college students, and that made us realize that updating the store is important in terms of appealing to a larger crowd,” said Marty Marstiller, VP of retail for the brand. “The design is a very big departure, but it’s very fitting to what the brand represents in terms of love for the sun and ocean.”
The design of the shop takes inspiration from a summer cottage and features such details as a front porch, Adirondack chairs and a shoe customization station at the cash wrap.

“We felt we needed an environment that was more inviting and offered that quintessential New England feel,” Marstiller said. “That was the main goal — to  bring that lifestyle into play.”

Here, the executive sounds off on updating Sperry’s look and opportunities for the brand’s retail doors going forward.

1. Why was now the right time to develop a new store concept?
Our strategic initiatives outside of footwear coincide with this. We’ve just had the opportunity to launch accessories this past spring, and we’re taking on apparel in a more meaningful way in 2014. The space we currently have is more conducive to showcasing footwear, and it doesn’t have the function and the flexibility to showcase apparel. To accommodate the growth of the brand, we really needed a more substantial platform and more inviting environment that showcases all categories, not just footwear.

2. What were some of the major changes in the format?
The major update would be the flexibility within the components of the wall space. In our current concept, we have flat walls that showcase footwear very nicely on shelves, but the way the shelving is built out in this new concept allows us to create a more dynamic and dimensional feel to the walls. We’ve also walked away from the self-service footwear station in the back of the store. Visually, that’s going to be compelling for a customer to see product displayed on a gorgeous hutch, as opposed to seeing shelving housing footwear.

3. What are the plans for expanding retail going forward?
At this point, we’re only building out new stores with this concept. We’re being very strategic about where we open locations, and we want to look at mall opportunities in very relevant markets. We’re looking to grow within our backyard in New England. We’re also — strategically, with wholesale — looking to move this brand westward. Getting [Sperry] recognized outside the Northeast is a very big piece of the puzzle.

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