New Orleans Retail Prepares for Super Bowl

Super Bowl weekend should mean big crowds — and hopefully big sales — for the shoe retailers of host city New Orleans, storeowners told Footwear News.

“We expect to have great business over the next three days, particularly Saturday,” said Kenny Rubenstein, owner and GM of Rubensteins in the downtown business district.

He added that while his men’s store has seen a small but steady increase in new customers coming in, he expects a dramatic pickup in traffic leading up to the game.

Evie Poitevent, owner of the two Feet First women’s stores, on Magazine Street and in the French Quarter, said an uptick in business had been slow but gaining so far. She and her team had prepared for a big weekend.

“We didn’t know what to expect, so I was doing some reading and they’re saying the city could see $1 billion from the Super Bowl, and they’re anticipating 150,000 people,” she said. “We know they’ll be heavily concentrated downtown near the Super Dome and in the French Quarter. We’re excited when a big convention comes to town, and that’s [usually just] 30,000 to 40,000 people. This could be five times that.”

At Louisiana Running Co., owner Patrick Gavin attributed an increase in customers to both the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, even though his store is two miles away from the center of the action. “There’s definitely more tourist traffic coming in to buy shoes,” he said, adding that some people who came early for the game have even shown up for his store’s twice-weekly group runs.

In the comfort arena, however, Gini Davis of Perfect Fit Shoes said that so far, the effect has been negligible. “We haven’t had one person who’s come in related to the Super Bowl,” she said. But with an address on busy Magazine Street, Davis noted she’s looking forward to the weekend. “It seems to be starting tonight and into the weekend. We are very hopeful.”

The Foot Locker banners — especially team-oriented Champs — expect a major draw nationwide, but New Orleans doors should see a distinct surge, said Dick Johnson, EVP and COO for the company. “The overall excitement around these events drives traffic, and increased traffic is always a good thing,” he said. City stores will have event merchandise on offer, and the executive, who is headed to New Orleans himself, added, “We should see a lift across all banners [and all categories] — everything gets a boost.”

To make sure their businesses get the attention they want, Rubenstein and Poitevent said they have taken action at their locations, including reducing clearance merchandise and bringing in spring product early.

“We wanted it to look fresh and colorful,” Rubenstein said.

“With Super Bowl in mind, we brought in more spring handbags, sandals and lots of flats for people walking around a lot,” Poitevent said.

And both retailers planned to keep their doors open with extended hours. Rubensteins will even be open on Sunday for a change.

“We definitely have staffed more heavily,” Poitevent said. “Our attitude is it’s better to be over-prepared.”

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