So, where are we? Low foot-traffic, zero marketing, huge rent increases, saturation product availability... the list of mitigating factors against success grows, each compounding and multiplying the bleak outlook.
Gee from Patta however has the enviable confidence that comes from having a solid foundation. “I am not negative at the future at all. Actually this is the best time to come up with new creative ventures. Good ideas and creativity will always prevail.”
Frank Liew also agrees. “Independent retail isn’t going anywhere. Sure, it might change, you might see certain names come and go, but for the most part it has to stay to give credibility to this culture in some way.”
Hopefully we have reached the nadir of the cycle. When the mushroom cloud has settled, it will be interesting to see what and who remain standing. As Frank from Boston’s Concepts store observed “You have to destroy to rebuild. This cycle can serve as a calibration. Big chains discovered our magic and forced companies to feed them specialty product. We will cultivate the ‘next and new’ and capture the bug in the jar again.”
Mike Packer has a practical suggestion. “Find the next Mars Blackmon to put the industry on its ear again!”
Like the skate industry that has ridden the crest of the wave and survived the inevitable wipeouts, the athletic footwear industry is adaptable and inherently creative. Life will surely go on. But without the independent store to attract the ‘one percenters’, life on the street definitely won’t be as interesting, nor as colourful.
Check out our next feature: HOW TO LACE YOUR SNEAKERS!