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Reps who helped turn it around – Blog #139

Reps who helped turn it around

Blog #138 I talked about my Northern California peeps. In this blog I want to talk about the Reps who helped turn it around.


I have always tried my best to treat Reps with respect. They are after all your business partners. It never made sense to me when people treated reps poorly. Some reps deserve it but all in all we all want the same end result. In my whole career there were maybe 3-4 reps that deserved it. They were the type that would just try to sell you instead of build a nice business with you.


Fortunately it was only 3-4. The next group of people are the far opposite of the other types. These reps really made a difference and helped me turn Palo Alto around. They moved out poor performers and did their best to keep us in stock in the hot items. These reps came to the store frequently to make sure we were in good shape.




I can’t say enough good things about this guy. Not only was he great for me at Nordstrom but also at Zappos years later. Consistency…I met Tom in the Arden Fair store as an Asst. with Steve. Clarks basically had one style that was huge, the “Sunbeat”. There were a lot of other styles that were pretty decent as well. Sunbeat was a monster though. It came in a dozen or so colors and was usually on the Anniversary sale. Tom was great at balancing our inventories and keeping a good flow of merchandise coming to the store each month.




Once we got our table of Munro styles coming in David was our rep that came in and made sure we were stocked. Like Tom, he came in and balanced our inventory and wrote reorders each month. When a new style would pop up as a hot item he would give me a call and we’d figure out to add it to the mix. He was a really good guy to work with and in the beginning phase of our Munro growth he was a great partner.




Steve was the rep for Keds. We had a pretty decent business in Palo Alto so he made sure we had the recolors right and in a timely manner. We would do our monthly reorder and then usually head out to lunch. We had a lot of similar interests outside of work too so we always had lots to talk about. Always in a great mood and really funny sense of humor. He was great to work with and enjoyed working with him after Nordstrom too.




Shoe Dog…Joe had been in the business for years. He knew his stuff. He had the line Magdesians which had a lot of sizes and widths. It was sometimes hard trying to figure how to order these items as there were around 90 different sizes per style.  Joe was great at sorting it all out and coming up with a great mix of styles for our store. We did pretty good with the super narrow widths too in Palo Alto so we always worked those in too. He helped me launch Size and Width at Zappos many years later.




Bob had a fashion line called Adrienne Vittadini. It added a touch of fashion to an otherwise tailored floor. He was a great rep to work with and always a gentleman. His brand did pretty good too so we usually had it up close to the front of the floor to add a little pizzazz. We always had good meetings and adding a hot new style here and there to keep things updated. It was a fun brand to buy for. Years later his sons would follow in his footsteps as great reps to work with.




Jimmy was our Enzo rep. We basically had one item that was always in the top ten for sales. It was a basic A-line flat with super soft leather. It came in a dozen different colors so you could easily fill up a table of “Lady’s”. As a rep Jimmy was great at suggesting the right color way for our store and he was usually right. We had a lot of fun together growing that business together and enjoyed our relationship further at Zappos with other brands as well.


It’s always best to build strong relationships with people so you have “partners” in your business. Plus it’s a lot more fun that way too.



…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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My Northern California Peers- Blog #138

My Northern California Peers

Blog #137 I talked about the Easy Spirit National Sales Event, In this blog I want to talk about my Northern California Peers.


Started at Nordstrom in 1989.  Kid’s shoes was a great experience and Brass Plum Shoes was amazing. Next in my career development was Womens Shoes. Most of  my experience was in this area just not as a buyer yet.


There were some really great people that were my Northern California peers specific to Women’s shoe.




Kiyoko was a great buyer in the Walnut creek store. She was a strong leader too and ran a tight ship. Consistency was her thing. There really wasn’t huge swings in her business unless everyone else experienced it as well. Basics were her focus and always had them in stock. We talked to each other quite frequently, even when I was in Brass Plum shoes. I learned a lot from her and she was a great example in leadership.




Claudia ran the Corte Madera store. This was a combined floor meaning it had Salon, Women’s and Brass Plum shoes (Juniors) all on one floor. I learned a lot from Claudia. She not only was a great role model for me from a buyer perspective but she carried herself well too. Classy comes to mind. Very consistent as well. Never had ups or downs in her business or her demeanor.


We worked with each other more than the other buyers.  This was because as I moved to different areas, she was a part of that since her floor was combined. Balance is what I learned from her. Having three departments, this was imperative and she did well. How to keep things aligned especially with the thought process.




Jon transferred from Southern California to run The San Francisco Women’s dept. I had worked with Jon in Brass Plum as peers before so I was familiar with him. He was the Buyer in South Coast Plaza I threw the gauntlet down to. It was a friendly competition so we had a great relationship.


The thing about Jon was he had great vision, he could spot trends and jump on them like no one I’ve ever seen. Great taste level too and I listened intently to what he had to say in meetings. His floor always looked amazing.




Marty was an Icon. He knew everyone in the company top to bottom. The  Pleasanton store was his responsibilty which was combined like Corte Madera. His store customer wasn’t as Fashion Forward as Claudia’s floor. This store was similar to Arden Fair with less volume. Marty’s strength was in story telling. There were so many stories of his experiences in footwear and Nordstrom, it was simply fascinating to me. I would hold on to every word as he was telling it. It was helpful later in my career in devloping buyers.


Marty was a character too, very animated and somewhat comical. He had a great sense of humor and I liked being around him. After I left Nordstrom we would always run into each other and still stay in contact today. He is a good friend.




Joe was another visionary who had a knack for being right about trends. Fashion or basics he was great at spotting the next big item. He was also a good friend who I chatted with quite frequently. Worked out frequently and kept himself in really great shape.

Plus he had quite a few stories too of his exploits as a single guy.  Being married for so long it was interesting to hear. He had a great sense of humor and we always ended up laughing, talking to each other. I learned a lot from him on balancing your mix of fashion and basics. Valley Fair was a combined Salon/Women’s floor with a fashion edge. 


The secret to growing as a merchant is to learn from others. I learned something from all my Northern California Peers which helped me in my career.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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