Are There Any Advantages to the Shrinking Retail Landscape?

In today’s retail environment of consolidations and closures, stores with their doors still open are faced with a new set of challenges and opportunities, along with the vendors that serve them. While some retailers are going after consumers whose local stores are no longer in business, vendors are becoming more flexible in their distribution policies in order to hold on to remaining accounts.

Here, brands and retailers weigh in on their sales and marketing approaches in a more focused environment.

Gary Weiner, president and CEO, Saxon Shoes, Virginia

“Since we’ve had a few stores close around us, our focus is to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie. We’re planning more events, [particularly] things people don’t expect, such as a February yoga class and sock event where vendors come in and show cool [styles]. While we’re always connecting with the community, we’re working even harder to connect inventory] options.”

Gary Weiner Saxon shoes
Gary Weiner, president and CEO of Saxon Shoes
CREDIT: Saxon Shoes

Zoe Polk, store manager, Pedestrian Shops, Colorado

“All our stores attract tourists visiting the Boulder-Denver area. We frequently hear from them that stores like ours in their hometowns have closed or they’ve never seen a selection quite like ours. Since we just relaunched our e-commerce site, they can now shop from home. [So now] we remember when we’re buying that we also need to buy [more diverse] product for our nonlocal clientele.”

Bruce Hausman, president, Footnotes, New Jersey

“There are stores in our area that have closed, so we can now [tap] those customers. Since we’ve been in business for 72 years, we hope to pick up some of that business. [To solicit more sales], we have an e-commerce website that we continue to build, and we’re spending more money to get our name out to customers across the country and in Canada.”

Lisa Schmitz, director, marketing and creative development, The Walking Cradle Co.

“With fewer retailers competing, we’re able to provide more dynamic one-on-one relationships with our long-standing retailers as well as new ones. Since we‘re trying to convince retailers that consumers want the sizes and widths we order, often driving an hour to stores to find shoes they know will fit them properly, we’re [willing] to give our retail partners more [return-to-inventory] options.

Walking Cradles sneaker
Walking Cradles fall ’19 sneaker.
CREDIT: Walking Cradles

Eric Harrison, CEO, J. Reneé Group

“In the past, there may have been three stores in one town and we had to segment sales. Today, if there’s one, we can combine [more product] into that store. It gives the retailers the ability to present more of the line without having to make the commitment of dollars and inventory. We can take a single style and put in a run of black, plus a sample in red, navy and taupe [that] can be shipped to the customer.”

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