What’s Selling: Salomon, Oboz & Chaco Among Brands Leading the Way at Outdoor Stores

What’s selling at outdoor specialty stores this week? Here, four retailers weigh in on winning brands and top trends, and talk about what’s not moving.

Nokomis Shoe Shop (Minneapolis)
Brian Ocel, men’s footwear buyer/assistant store manager

Top 3 Brands:

OluKai: “The Nohea Moku slip-on with a collapsible heel. It’s been on fire. Guys are switching from the traditional boat shoe look and going to this [style].”

Keen: “It’s our go-to brand, particularly the Targhee Vent, a breathable style for men and women. Not everyone’s looking for a waterproof shoe, especially in the summer.”

Oboz: “The Sawtooth Low. It’s lightweight and breathable.”

Top Trends: “Everybody’s looking for a lightweight [look], with slip-ons over laces.”

Not Selling: “Sandals are a bit down, especially men’s. Regionally, we got a late spring since it was cold into April with snow. It’s starting to pick up now, but guys are transitioning away from the traditional sandal look and going for styles like OluKai, Toms and Sanuk.”

Hot Take: “People want lightweight and performance. For us, hiking looks are coming back and are now more popular. Moving into fall, a lot of casual footwear is looking more hiking inspired.”

Vital Outdoors (Denver and Golden, Colo.)
Cody Walter, outdoor sales specialist

Top 3 Brands:

Chaco: “People come in already knowing about the brand and want to try them. They’re looking for outdoor sandals they can wear all day and that will hold up.”

Teva: “Sandals, such as the Hurricane XL. [Consumers] want something they can hike in, but also wear in the water while rafting or tubing, instead of a closed water shoe.”

Altra: “It’s marketed as a trail runner, but has a lot more uses. For casual day hikers, a trail runner is good if they’re not [planning] to do anything super technical.”

Top Trends: “Most people [want] shoes they can wear outdoors, but that are also multiuse in their day-to-day lives. They want versatile pieces.”

Not Selling: “Denver is a way different neighborhood than Golden, since it’s closer to downtown. While we have trail runners and hiking shoes in both stores, in Golden, I get a lot of people looking for more street wear.”

Hot Takes: “A lot of customers want to know a shoe’s specific use. I talk about things I have practical experience with, rather than reading tech specs they can look up on a website.”

Paragon Sports (New York)
Jim Laros, outdoor footwear buyer

Top 3 Brands:

Salomon: “It’s my No. 1 growth brand. It’s aggressive from a styling point of view, which works from a fashion aspect in New York. People are also looking for footwear that’s multidimensional. You can buy a trail runner from Salomon and use it as a casual shoe or a light hiking boot. There’s lots of cross-over potential.”

Merrell: “People can buy a pair that targets a lot of different uses.”

The North Face: “They’re not known as a footwear brand, but have been developing the category. They have multiuse shoes that work in the same way Merrell’s do.”

Top Trends: “We tend to follow fashion trends, so our outdoor footwear division also incorporates casuals. We [went] after that category four or five years ago. A lot of our success is based on the fact we’re based in New York, the fashion capital. Our runaway success for spring has been Birkenstock, which has been on fire everywhere. Blundstone is also trending. They’re my two growth brands.”

Not Selling: “If there’s anything trending down, it’s technical footwear. We used to hang our hat on the fact we were the go-to place in New York for technical outdoor footwear, but a lot of people are trending away from medium-weight waterproof hiking boots that [can be worn] in a snow storm or on a hike in the summer. Now, it’s about lighter-weight shoes with a mesh construction. People are going lighter and faster.”

Hot Take: “The biggest issue has been the weather. [Our business] is weather driven. Because of the late rainy, cold spring, the buying cycle has been on hold. We didn’t get [spring] weather until a week of two ago, and when we did, [business] busted loose. However, it’s hard to make up that [business].”

The Base Camp (Billings and Helena, Mont.)
Hilary Mitchell, footwear buyer

Top 3 Brands:

Chaco: “Our No. 1-selling sandal brand. A lot of it’s about fit, function, color and variety, with the younger generation driving those sales.”

Oboz: “It’s based in Bozeman, Mont., so a lot of the product testing occurs around here. It offers a good fit, as well as waterproof and non-waterproof styles in boots and low-tops. This year’s sales are higher than previous years.”

La Sportiva: “They make nice trail running shoes. While we see a lot of trail runners using them for their intended purpose, the brand also makes slightly beefier styles that also work for day hiking.”

Top Trends: “Lots of people are going toward a low-top shoe rather than a classic leather hiking boot. It’s a trend that started last year. They’re more comfortable, versatile and lighter weight.”

Not Selling: “Men’s casual footwear is tough. Men buy a hiking shoe and a sandal and they’re [done]. No brown shoes.”

Hot Take: “For us, being a brick-and-mortar store, consumers expect us to be super knowledgeable and be able to suggest something that’s going to work for the activity they are intending.”

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