RETAIL Resilience

 

For Amy Becker, owner of Florida retailer Becker’s Best Shoes, it’s been a year of challenges and change. Beginning the year with two stores, the retailer closed one location and relocated its remaining store to a larger space.

Forced to temporarily close her stores in March and April, usually her busiest time of the year, Becker says the store ramped up its website to offer e-commerce options and also focused on upgrading its VIP customer list and its social media interactions and posts.

The current trend away from fashion and towards more athletic styles has been tough for Becker’s, which traditionally does a lot of business in sandals and colorful, fashion-oriented styles, says Becker.

The DeLand, FL, Becker’s Best location struggled once it opened back up and Becker made the decision to close it. She says, “The DeLand store was barely making it before COVID hit. When it opened back up, many merchants in that downtown did not come back. You can’t sell two pairs of shoes a day and survive.”

The decision to close that location was done in conjunction with the decision to move the remaining Becker’s Best store in Mount Dora, FL, to a bigger space — increasing the selling space from 550 square feet to  1800 square feet. The new store fits six couches, all socially distanced, and allows for more breathing room. “We had been planning to move to a bigger space,” says Becker. “We decided to go big or go home. And dealing with COVID now, people do want more space.”

After losing a few months of sales and being “stuck” with a lot of inventory, Becker says it has been “frustrating to see vendors discounting shoes on their websites but not discounting our invoices.”

Says Becker, “We ended up with way more inventory than we could sell as we had ordered for the whole season. We had a few vendors that worked with us, but it will affect our future orders — they won’t be as big.”

Since reopening after COVID, Becker says she has focused on marketing “kindness” and a “we’re all in this together” message. She has also connected with her VIP customers, doing things like sending out thank you notes offering $20 off of a $100 purchase. —CG


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