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  • It’s a clear, sunny September day in Nashville, Tenn., and JimEstepa’s iPad is beeping with email notifications. Speaking to Footwear News in a conference room at Genesco Inc.’s headquarters, the retail executive eventually picks it up, eager to show how he stays on top of Ugg Slippers technology and social media, an ability that’s essential for a baby boomer tasked with keeping up with his 12- to 25-year-old customer base.Swiping his finger over the device’s screen, Estepa, SVP of Genesco and president and CEO of its retail group, which includes Journeys, said, “Our customer today has technology and instant knowledge in every part of their lives. As a retailer, you truly have to know what’s going on. [Thanks to our] IT department, anything I can get on my computer, I can get [on this device]. And looking at this, I can tell you right now [same-store sales] were up 47.4 percent at noon compared with http://www.uggbootsoutletinc.com last year.”The company’s digital strategy doesn’t stop there.“We follow everybody on Twitter,” said Estepa. “[Social media] is an experience you have to somehow [integrate], whether into the brick-and-mortar stores or the catalog, and it has to all be seamless.”Still, even as technology demands a greater percentage of his time, Estepa remains an old-school shoe dog.The exec started his career at the age of 18, as a salesman at Kinney Shoe Corp. After joining Genesco in 1985, he has journeyed with the chain from store No. 1 to store No. 1,000 and beyond, and is now focused on opening even more doors internationally.The aim is to annually add about Ugg Outlet 25 new Journeys and Journeys Kidz stores in North America, and between 10 and 15 stores in Canada. Through its acquisition of U.K.-based Schuh Group in June, Genesco also wants to double Journeys’ British presence and penetrate European markets.“What is good is that we don’t have any capital restraints, so if we decided we had the opportunity to grow 50 Journeys stores a year instead of 25, we would do it. If it’s profitable, solid growth, we’ll look at it,” said Estepa.While casual brands such as Converse and Vans are Journeys’ bread and butter, its retail concept Sh?, which launched in 2005, stocks more-fashionable footwear, catering to the Ugg Boots Outlet chain’s female customer as she matures beyond her teens and her fashion tastes evolve.“We’re doing 25 percent comp increases in Sh?, and no matter what retailer you talk to, no one is doing that,” said Estepa. “We knew there was opportunity there [because] we were underdeveloped in the women’s department in Journeys [due to] the athletic contribution with skate. There are women who don’t want to shop in that environment. We wanted to create a specialty store for the woman in her early 20s to mid-30s who graduated out of Journeys.”Here, Estepa shares his thoughts on the importance of brands in driving demand, the economy’s impact on teen Cheap Uggs spending and why his team of industry veterans is prevailing even in the depths of a global economic crisis.How have you been dealing with the price increases affecting the industry now?JE: We’ve been fairly fortunate because the price increase — and this is mainly because of our size — hasn’t been as difficult as it might have been for some folks [because] we buy so far out in advance. In most cases, we’re going to pass along to the customer what we feel is appropriate. We have [started doing that], and some of the brands, quite honestly, haven’t skipped a beat. You are going to see some of Ugg Boots the customers get somewhat squeamish when they see a shoe they’ve constantly bought for $40 get to $45, but even then, a $3 or $4 price increase on a $40 or $50 shoe is not the end of the world.How do you make sure your customers still feel that the shoes they’re buying are worth the price?JE: We need to make sure our brands don’t lower the quality of their product to a point where our customers are disappointed when they buy something. Our quality teams have to watch things very closely to ensure the confirmation samples match what’s coming in. We are very strict on that. We Cheap Ugg Boots have no problem sending product back to our vendors, and we are large enough to be able to do it. If your customer expects to wear a Converse shoe for three to four months before getting a new one, they should be able to do that.To what degree are price pressures simply a matter of perception?
    This week, Nike unveiled its newest L.A. flagship, located in The Grove shopping complex on West Uggs On Sale Third Street, which is also houses major retailers Nordstrom, Coach, Michael Kors and Ugg Australia. The store spans 31,000 square feet stretched over three levels and features the full range of Nike footwear, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids in a variety of sport categories, from basketball and running to golf and the outdoors. Like many of Nike’s flagships, the store design speaks to the local flavor and offers unique elements, such as a mural by L.A. artist Tristan Eaton and reclaimed wood from L.A. County high school gym floors. The multistory “We Are L.A.” mural (pictured above) is an homage to local sports teams and Nike’s iconic athletes.New Jersey’s forthcoming American Dream shopping-and-entertainment project can boast three additions to its retail lineup. Hudson’s Bay Co. has inked a deal with property owner The Triple Five Group of Cos. to open three of its banners — Saks Fifth Ugg Sale Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Saks Off Fifth — in the 3 million-sq.-ft. complex, which is slated to open in 2017. The Saks and Lord & Taylor stores will be located in “The Collections” area of American Dream, which is focused on luxury and lifestyle offerings. The Saks Off Fifth store will be situated in the off-price area on the third level. In addition to a retail component, American Dream New Jersey will offer restaurants and entertainment and is expected to attract roughly 40 million visitors a year.Dick’s Sporting Goods continues to roll out new doors for its All American Sports Center concept, created in partnership with Field Ugg Boots On Sale & Stream. After opening the first location in July in Mobile, Ala., the companies will debut two locations next week, in Columbus and Polaris, Ohio. The All-American Sports Center is a hybrid concept, featuring both a Dick’s store and a Field & Stream shop, to provide a complete selection of both sports and outdoor merchandise. Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods has been busy developing innovative retail banners: Earlier this summer, it also launched the women’s-fitness boutique Chelsea Collective.