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Key Brands we made Huge – Blog #140

Key Brands we made Huge


Blog #139 I talked about the Reps who helped turn it around. In this blog I want to talk about the key brands we made huge

There are always hot brands that come and go in business. And in our industry reps tend to change companies frequently as well. Every now and then the stars align and we get to enjoy a hot brand for an extended amount of time and the rep that helps drive it. The next two reps and brands prove my point.




Sudini was the brand and Steve was the man that drove it. And Steve wasn’t the type of rep to take advantage and load us up. In fact it was quite the opposite. When I first got into the department the first thing Andre told me was we missed Sudini boot sales frequently. The previous buyer didn’t buy enough.


The line itself was primarily a boot brand that was made in Italy. They would always try some sandals in the spring but boots were the driving force. They also came in a selection of sizes and widths. The buy could be quite expensive so you really had to plan it out properly. Steve was great at coming in and sizing us up every month.


Infamous line


One particular month he came in and handed me a reorder that pretty much had ones and twos per size. I said jokingly he had to stop writing shoes like a pussy or we wouldn’t ever reach our potential.  The definition for this word means coward or weakling just so we’re all clear. then proceeded to put ones in front of his numbers so 2 size 7’s turned into 12.

He looked at me and said “are you sure?”. Dude…I’m sure…


Our Sudini business blew up from there. Our salespeople weren’t missing sizes anymore. We were smart about what sizes we did reorder so I didn’t put a 1 in front of the sizes we didn’t sell that well but in the guts I sure did. We would usually work the line each time he came in then we’d grab a nice lunch or even dinner on occasion. Our business grew and so did our friendship.




Nickels was a pretty big brand for Nordstrom, especially in Palo Alto. When Scott came in the first time when he was the RMM he emphasized it. Again the salespeople told me we missed Nickels sizes frequently. This was a different beast though. There were a lot of styles that we sold but two style in particular were huge. The Nani and the Nona. I decided to put those on a never out basis so my reorders were pretty big with those styles. Narrow and deep…Rob would have been proud.


Terry was the rep. he was pretty good at coming in every month but like Steve wasn’t used to my narrow and deep philosophy. Terry wasn’t shy though he went after it so I ended up toning it down a bit. We had two full tables of Nickels product and always up front. The line was pretty extensive and was made by the same group that did Via Spiga another great brand for us.


Living room floor


We would spend a whole day writing orders for this brand, it was that big. On one occasion Terry had a late start so he asked if we could just do it at my house and order pizza in. We laid out the brand on my living room floor by delivery and wrote orders into the night.

We ordered some good pizza from a local place and knocked it out. I didn’t invite reps over like that too often so my family got a kick out of it. The kids didn’t fully grasp what their dad did for a living so it gave them a pretty good picture. Like Sudini our Nickels business exploded into a huge business.


These two key brands we made huge. Mostly in part to these two guys that helped drive it.


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

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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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Hot items make the difference – Blog #84

Hot Items Make the Difference

In Blog 83 I talked about why knowledge is power. In this blog I wanted to talk about how hot items make the difference.

So we already had success in a bunch of hot items and did a pretty good job at keeping them in stock. Another hot trend was the Sam & Libby ballet flat. It was a simple flat that came in a wide array of colors. It was really hot, everyone wanted a pair. At the same time Sam & Libby went public. To celebrate they came out with a bunch of different versions of the classic ballet flat.

There was also the personal side of their relationship that made big news. “Libby is the balance to everything I do; she’s my muse,” said Sam. “Living up to her standards isn’t always easy, but in the end, my goal is always to live up to what she represents in the world.”

The styles were so hot we had sections of the brand in so many different colors. We even had salespeople from the women’s floor coming over to our side.Mostly because their customers wanted a pair, in addition to what they were buying on the women’s side. It was a great time. I had the pleasure to launch Sam’s new line years later called Sam Edelman at Zappos. It was also a huge success. I’ve developed a nice relationship with both Sam & Libby which has been great. 

Success story

The Converse All-Star I brought into BP shoes became a corporate success story. It was picked to be included in our Anniversary Sale in July. I was really proud that we had done so well and it inspired others to follow suit.

Great items come and go and there usually is a life span for each. The Converse All-Star is one of those that’s been around for a long time. When it becomes a fashion trend it increases the demand. Hot items make the difference.The Sam & Libby ballet flat quickly became a staple in women’s shoe wardrobe and  also had a long run.

Then there are the trends that come and go, the trick is to identify when to shut it down. That’s the fun part of buying

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.

Seth Godin



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

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Why Knowledge is Power – Blog #83

Why Knowledge is Power

In Blog 82 I talked about My Mentor Robs influence. In this blog I wanted to talk about Why Knowledge is power.

So one of the big things I learned from Rob was doing a proper stock walk. A stock walk is when you physically go into the stockroom and go down each aisle to make sure you have your key items and sizes in stock. In a retail store its also good to make notes of things that are out of order. I even do this today in a more virtual way.

So not too long after I got downstairs to Brass Plum shoes, Steve left the company. I was really sad to see him go as he gave me a new start in the Arden Fair store and he was just a great guy. I learned a lot from him to about how to treat your people. Steve would have us over sometimes for get- togethers at his home. He was a really warm and friendly guy and we have a nice relationship to this day.


So Rob promotes Kaaren into the Women’s shoes position. She had a lot of knowledge being at Nordstrom for a while and was a great merchant. We hit it off right off the bat. She was funny and was great with people. She had a great style to her that people respected.

Nordstrom University

I get a call from Rob one day and he says “Mikey boy”, we are going to put all the buyers in the region through a “Nordstrom University” program. We will talk about how to run the business the right way and how to manage people effectively.

One of the topics was actually how to listen to people. It was a great program and I learned a lot from it. I use a lot of the things from these courses even today.This is why knowledge is power. It helps you make informed decisions.

I said earlier that one of the most important things Rob taught me was the stock walk. It was, but it was part of the bigger picture of how important knowledge of your business is. There are so many facets to running an effective business and everyone should be hungry to learn more, always…If you don’t know the answer or are stumped on how to improve your business, figure out how to get there. This why Knowledge is Power

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. Confucius



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

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