Blog # 227 I talked about First Zappos Tour group arrives. In this blog I want to talk about Zappos factory tour group day two.
Everyone was feeling much better after a good night’s sleep. It helped also I promised no more tanneries to tour. Today we were going to tour a few factories that were making our big shoes. I mean that quite literally because Fred could try on a pair, and he wears a men’s size 14. Kenny with whom I knew from my Nordstrom days, took us to one of the factories that made our big RSVP shoe. We were both Brass Plum shoe buyers back then and he was a great guy to boot.
He took us around the factory and made sure everyone knew what was going on for each station. It was great everyone could see the process and our top shoes coming down the line. Fred even tried on a women’s shoe in a size 15 which almost fit him. He was a good sport. I did as well but it didn’t have the same impact as his size 14 foot, fitting in one of our pumps.
When we started our private label area, I knew we would have to be different and offer quality merchandise at a great price. I learned that from Harry Holmes at Nordstrom. My plan was to offer extended sizes and widths in basics but also fashion items as well. We needed to see what the voids in the market were and capitalize on those voids.
I mentioned before for every size and width there is a different last or mold the make the shoe from. When you offer extended sizes and widths it can be very costly. Some factories would do cheater lasts. What that means is they will use a wide last for a style but add extra material, so it fits wider. It’s not a true fit this way. I would never do those for our brands.
Richard was enjoying being the host or tour guide to China factories. I would help him with some of the factories, but he coordinated everything else. He did a great job, and everyone really enjoyed the tours.
This evening one oof the factories arranged for us to attend their big dinner party celebration. The food was amazing, and the hosts would come by the table and chat with us before they went to the next table. In China it was also customary to have a shot of Moutai which is like Italian grappa but a little stronger in taste. Some evenings it could be crazy especially if there were a lot of toasts.
There was a very petite lady that would come to each table of 10 and have a shot of Moutai with each person. It was amazing. I’ve seen people at Zappos drink quite a lot of shots before, but no one had anything on this young lady. As we were leaving, I had to ask her how she did it. She said with a wry smile “This is nothing, you should meet my mother”. No thank you…
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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