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Amid an Uncertain Back-to-School Season, Shoe Brands Are Stepping Up to Help Independent Retailers

Independent footwear retailers are facing unprecedented challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After months of shutdowns, stores across the country finally were able to open their doors to customers in recent weeks. But now, with the dangerously high spikes in case numbers in the South and West Coast, the question looms about whether brick-and-mortar will be able to continue to operate normally.

And the outlook is also unclear for the all-important back-to-school season, as some schools prepare to reopen, while others are gearing up for remote learning.

Here, executives from some of the popular brands in the kids’ market share how they’re working with retailers now.

Yarra McClure, Director of marketing, Livie & Luca

“Our retailers have all been impacted by the pandemic and our team is reaching out on a regular basis to see how we can help and to offer solutions to keep their businesses viable. We have created individual plans for each retail customer, including extending dating on spring ’20 products, returning products that are not turning and, in some cases, we are completely covering and writing off debt. There is no simple answer, so we are remaining as flexible as possible while bearing in mind that we, too, are a small business.”

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David Kahan, CEO, Birkenstock Americas

“We continue to work closely with our independent accounts, mainly related to product availability as they begin to reopen. As a brand with high consumer demand, we want to make sure they can fulfill requests.”

Birkenstock Arizona Mink Shearling
The Birkenstock Arizona with mink shearling lining is in kids’ sizes for the first time this fall.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Birkenstock

Katie Wagner, VP of Americas wholesale, Crocs

“Our goal has been to provide flexibility, where possible, knowing that cash preservation is the primary goal of all retailers. To that end, we partnered with retailers on cancellation of orders, worked to rebalance our supply of our top-selling key items, and moved to more of an at-once selling model.”

Crocs Classic Clog kids
The Crocs Classic Out of This World Galaxy clog for kids.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Crocs

Tracy Paoletti, VP of sales, Ugg and Koolaburra by Ugg

“Independent retailers have been and remain a very important channel for the Ugg brand. We are working closely with all our retailers, allowing maximum flexibility to manage and adjust their fall ’20 order based on their unique situation: brick-and-mortar store openings and closures, maximizing web opportunities and so forth.”

Ugg Fluff Yeah
Celebrity moms and their little ones are often spotted in the Ugg Fluff Yeah.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ugg

Liz Bunnell, VP of Marketing, Wolverine Worldwide Kids Group

“We have spent a lot of time reassessing our inventory and anticipating the needs of our retail partners as they reopen their doors to customers again. We’ve worked hard to help our partners in two key areas. First, we helped them adjust their spring orders so that they were not heavy in inventory, thus allowing them to purchase fall silhouettes. Second, we do also have at-once inventory in core and seasonal fall product to allow for more immediate fill-in orders as needed.”

Merrell Alpine Puffer kids boots
Merrell’s new Alpine Puffer kids’ boots are waterproof and features a size zipper.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Wolverine Kids Group

Brandon Gingerich, Director of sales, Badorf Shoe Co.

“Our independent partners are the life-blood of our business and especially important to us. We have been working closely with them allowing spring/fall order revisions, spring invoice support and penalty forgiveness, access to expired discounts, extended terms on fall at-once orders, and (possibly most important of all) access to the full breadth of fall inventory which has already arrived and is shipping.”

Tsukihoshi Racer Kids Sneaker
Tsukihoshi Racer is offered for boys and girls.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Badorf Shoe Co.

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