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RACK ROOM SHOES
A Destination for Fashion and Value
by Beverly Dykes
The corporate vision at Rack Room Shoes is to be the family footwear retailer of choice in the markets in which its stores operate. By adhering to high standards of quality, service, convenience and value, it is accomplishing this mission by becoming increasingly prominent in the minds of consumers. The shoe stores offer a targeted selection of fashion forward, name brand footwear and seasonally relevant accessories for men, women and children. What really sets it apart though, are an adherence to a strategy of competitive pricing and providing a consistently satisfying shopping experience that exceeds customer expectations.
Another aspect of this organization that distinguishes it in the marketplace is management’s commitment to imbuing the corporate culture with principles that exhibit integrity and can serve as a model for others to follow. The company regards people as a valuable resource, and thus utilizes the abilities of its employees and vendors in achieving its vision and mission. Service to customers being of paramount consideration, the company strives to achieve excellence in every instance when dealing with visitors to any of its growing network of retail locations. Furthermore, the stores endeavor to be a good “neighbor“ within the community by partnering with various non-profit groups, combining financial and volunteer support to assist the organizations in making a positive difference. With regard to employees, the company’s commitment extends to consistently fair treatment and efforts at positive motivation being extended at every level of operation. Finally, the company adheres to a policy of exhibiting uncompromisingly ethical conduct in all relationships.
The chain’s history began with one store opened in Salisbury, NC. In 1922, Phil Levinson envisioned offering customers premium service and great products at a fair price. Phil Levinson and his son in law, Mort Lerner, began expanding the number of stores beginning in the 1950s and continuing steadily through the early 1980s (mostly under the banner of Phil‘s Shoes, with some operating as Rack Room Shoes). In 1984, The Deichmann Group, a privately held shoe retailer based in Germany, made its initial investment in the U.S. market with the purchase of Lerner’s 22-store company. The parent company enacted a plan of accelerated growth and infrastructure modernization for Rack Room Shoes and, in 1995, relocated its U.S. headquarters to a state-of-the-art facility in Charlotte, NC. Over the next ten years, the number of Rack Room Shoes stores operating in the U.S. doubled in number. Today, there are 385+ Rack Room Shoes positioned in high traffic market regions in 29 states throughout the U.S., spanning from New Jersey to California. The chain’s pace of expansion has been steady, with dozens of new stores added to the roster annually for the past few years, and another 40-45 projected to be added in 2014-2015.
The store merchandise, encompassing shoes, handbags, backpacks, shoe care products, shoe laces, socks and related accessories, reflects current fashions across a range of styles geared toward the categories of comfort, dress, casual, trendy and athletic needs. The prices are designed to be affordable for families, which are typically constrained by a limited apparel budget for the whole household. The customer’s savings stem from the company’s ability to feature nationally recognized branded items, known for quality and style, at a significant percentage off the manufacturers’ suggested retail prices.
No compromise need be made with regard to choice either, with Skechers, Saucony, Sperry, New Balance, Nike, Vans, Keds, Converse and Clarks among the coveted name brands available at Rack Room Shoes. In addition, the company has arranged for the design of its own private label merchandise, commissioned from some of the most reliable manufacturers in the business -- again aimed at delivering premium selection and style to customers at considerable savings. The knowledgeable, friendly sales staff and the stores’ customer-friendly return policy further contribute to increasing consumer preference and loyalty.
Among the strategies that have assisted Rack Room Shoes in meeting its growth projections has been the selection of convenient store locations. Among its latest to open has been a store at West Palm Beach Outlets, FL that opened in February of 2014, and others due to open in the coming months in SC, LA, OR, GA and KY. The concept typically occupies 5,500-7,000 sq. ft. of space in enclosed super regional malls, power centers, outlet centers and pad site/outparcels. The minimum frontage required is 65 feet. The ideal traffic count is 20,000+ cpd. Among demographic considerations are a mid-level income ($50k+) among the trade population, consisting of a minimum of 100,000 people within a radius of 5 miles (corresponding to an approximate minimum of 30,000 households within 5 miles). Among desirable co-tenants are fashion-oriented, upscale concepts which similarly promote value and convenience. The typical lease term commitment is 5 years, with two 5 year options.
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