I had coffee today with Adam Derrick of To Boot (which most Sartorialists know as the best shoe store in New York which just happens to be nestled inside the best clothing store in New York, Bergdorf Goodman). Of course we spent most of the time talking about shoes we own, shoes we want to own and shoes we used to own. It was really funny listening to him talk about the horrors of a fine shoe fanatic trying to find a sneaker to work out in. Needless to say it ran along the lines of “do these make my butt look big?” jean shopping stories every woman can relate to.
I asked him about his business which he admits is growing at a very strong but manageable rate. Of course my next question was “what’s next? ” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard first hand or have read about these huge completely unrealistic expansion plans; New stores, more ads, new product lines, blah,blah, blah. Adam on the other hand, without a second’s hesitation, says to me “build more trust with my existing accounts.” So simple, so effective and so achievable a plan.
Adam confesses to not knowing all the minutiae of every door of Nordstrom or Saks or speciality stores that he is in but he does know he customer, no matter where they are in the country. By focusing on building trust, Adam has been able to get his buyers to literally “buy into” his vision of what is right for the To Boot customer in their store. If you have ever dealt with store owners or buyers it sounds like an easy thing to do but it really is not. With how the balance of power is in the business though right now, it is brilliant to focus on this because he will have to answer for it at the dreaded end-of-season gross margin meeting anyway. It is just refreshing to see someone putting their focus where it really matters, the customers they already have.