*Editor’s Note: Since this interview took place, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most retailers to close their doors, making a tough industry even more difficult. When we emerge from this crisis, local retailers will face all of the same challenges… and then some. Now more than ever, we must support them by shopping local.
Located at Metro Centre, Holmes Shoes traces its roots all the way back to 1887. The shop offers a complete line of men’s and women’s athletic and fashion footwear, as well as safety shoes and boots, and footwear for healthcare professionals.
What is your biggest challenge as a retailer in 2020?
Supply chain! Internet stores don’t have the supply chain issues that brick-and-mortar businesses deal with. Online stores can promise two-day shipping time—we can’t. If we don’t have an item in stock, we need as many as three weeks to get the item. Also, customers often don’t realize the difference between retail and wholesale ordering. For example, newbalance.com (which isn’t owned by New Balance) can offer a shoe in two days from a warehouse in the St. Louis area. I need two weeks to get the same shoe from New Balance. We at Holmes Shoes make up the difference by providing the best customer service possible.
Have you seen a sustained impact from recent Shop Local campaigns?
Yes and no. While we see many people who want to buy from local shops, they’re still willing to go on the internet to save five dollars!
What other trends are you seeing in retail?
Instant gratification. People are not willing to wait (internet again). And more and more, we are hearing this question: “When’s this going on sale?” People want quality, performance, service and “Made in the USA”… but they don’t always want to pay for it.
Anything else you wish to add?
The loss of Caterpillar world headquarters was bigger than many want to admit. The move made national headlines, and within a year’s time we went from getting new merchandise weeks early to becoming one of the last to ship. A shoe rep told me that his boss would ask, “What’s selling in the Peoria area?” Shortly after the Cat move announcement, his boss stopped asking. PM