California Fires: Shoe Companies Are Unscathed But Brace for the Worst as Blazes Rage

California is once again battling a series of fires that have forced the evacuation of homes and businesses. While the Kincade fire in Northern California continues to rage, the new Getty fire broke out in Los Angeles and forced the closure of a lane on the Los Angeles freeway.

At press time, shoe companies who spoke with FN reported they have not experienced any damage to their facilities, but there remained concerns regarding delayed shipments and possible loss of retail sales as consumers prioritize safety and evacuations over shopping.

According to Kfir Matalon, co-founder of Jerusalem Sandals, based in Van Nuys, Calif., the Getty fire is about eight miles from the company, placing its facilities just northeast of the blaze. Most of the ramps on Interstate 405 were closed on Monday, he said, and there were also plans to completely close U.S. Highway Route 101 to Sunset Boulevard. “All our employees are coming from the north, so we’re not affected and we will open today,” he said yesterday.

Regarding shipping products, Matalon said it was too early to tell if UPS and FedEx will show up. “I live in Sherman Oaks, so we [and] our employees didn’t need to evacuate yet, but we are ready if needed.”

Skechers, located in Manhattan Beach, Calif., reported that its offices and distribution center were well out of reach of the fire. According to the company, while some employees were forced to evacuate their homes yesterday and were unable to make it into the office, others were able to work remotely.

At Seychelles and BC Footwear, President Sari Ratsula, said the company’s employees have not been impacted. “Our headquarters are in El Segundo, and most of us live south of downtown Los Angeles,” she said. “While our families are all well, it breaks our hearts to see the fires spreading and people fighting for their lives and homes.”

On the personal side, Ratsula noted her family went through an evacuation process in 2017 during the Orange County canyon fires. “I was traveling to New York for the FFANY Shoes on Sale event at that time and was pretty much on pins and needles for two days. All ended up being well, especially after a major cleanup in the area.” 

David Kahan, CEO, Birkenstock Americas, Novato, Calif., reported that yesterday numerous employees were under mandatory evacuations. Although he said there was no power in Marin County, “Luckily we have a generator at our headquarters, so it’s business as usual, but very scary in the area. People are here and safe, but very scary all over the area.”

Like Birkenstock, Jack Silvera, founder and CEO of Dynasty Footwear in El Segundo, Calif., said, “As a company, we’re very lucky,” noting no employees were impacted by the fires. However, he added, “There’s going to be winds of 60 and 70 miles an hour and things can spread. Everyone is on alert. I feel fortunate since it’s affected lots of people. And, it’s not over yet.”

Bearpaw in Citrus Heights, Calif., also reported it had escaped any damage from the fire. “[We’re] an hour away from the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, so our hours of operation and distribution have not been affected,” said Kathleen Myers, marketing manager. “We are continuing to monitor this statewide emergency and pray that it all comes to an end soon.”

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