For the past 24 years, Shoe Inn’s warehouse sale in the Hamptons has been a can’t-miss event for both local residents and bargain hunters vacationing out east.
This year, the sale, which runs through Aug. 30, is bigger than ever before — with 10,000 pairs of shoes from more than 100 brands. Prices start at $15 for flip-flops and top off at $249 for high-end boots. (Original prices were as high as $795.)
It’s also taking place in a new location, at the old Pier 1 store in Southampton, which is dramatically bigger than the old space at the American Legion in Amagansett.
The expanded space allowed Shoe Inn to safely hold the sale, with appropriate social distancing and other measures in place, including crowd control, a mandatory mask policy, hand sanitizer at the door, temperature checks and disposable peds footies available for every customer.
Peter Lawson, VP of Shoe Inn — which has been family-run for more than four decades — said that it in March, the coronavirus forced the retailer to cancel its annual New York City sale, and at the same time temporarily close all of its stores.
And the Hamptons event wasn’t a given either. “We were nervous about the sale until we found the Pier 1 location,” Lawson said, noting that Shoe Inn had shifted end-of-season stock from its eight other tri-state locations to the Hamptons. “We haven’t had any complaints. There’s been a great response.”
Top brands include Steve Madden, Stuart Weitzman, Fiorentini + Baker, Birkenstock, Dr. Martens, Sam Edelman, Kenneth Cole — and accessories from bags to scarves to gloves have been a big hit too.
The sales comes during pivotal moment for Shoe Inn, which is forging ahead with two new openings during the pandemic. The retailer is making a return to the city with a boutique on the Upper East Side, at 3rd Avenue and 77th Street. It will also set up shop at Closter Plaza, an upscale center in New Jersey.
“We’re one of the big independents that’s left,” noted Lawson, who garnered experience at Steve Madden before joining the family business a few years ago and working alongside his parents, Billy and Melissa. “People still want to come in and try on shoes.”
Ramping up its digital presence has been another priority for the retailer. “Our web business was booming during [the height of] coronavirus. We had people working to ship shoes out three days a week.”
While business has been challenging, with traffic still off across the store roster, Lawson expects the East Hampton and West Hampton unit to benefit from a longer Hamptons season. “Fall’s not going to be the same as usual. A lot of people have extended their rentals through October and November,” he noted.
Plus, with stores in Connecticut suburbs like Scarsdale, New Canaan and Westport, Lawson expects to attract more college students who are staying at home this fall — as long as there isn’t a second wave of the virus.