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Once Upon a Patent Leather Mary Jane…

Finding the right shoes for little feet is a fairy tale come true.
Blame it on Cinderella. When a prince comes calling with a perfect glass …

Finding the right shoes for little feet is a fairy tale come true.

Blame it on Cinderella. When a prince comes calling with a perfect glass slipper in tow, what girl wouldn’t swoon? How can we be blamed for a lifetime obsession with shoes when our earliest introduction to fine footwear is so tempting? It’s no wonder women dream of a walk-in closet the size of a parking lot. Some may want to fill it with the latest athletic footwear, and some women may picture nothing but Prada and Manolos, but the fairytale remains the same—we want shoes, shoes and more shoes.

That’s why we thought it was time to pay homage to the coveted category in the pages of Earnshaw’s with our first annual Shoe Issue. There’s no denying the obsession begins at an early age. For me, it was a pair of red, patent leather Stride Rites. As a toddler, the shiny Mary Janes seemed to exude grown-up sophistication. Although, the tale of how I acquired the beloved pair is a bit more ignominious. As my mother tells it, “You had to wear Stride Rites because your feet were too chunky to fit into any other brand.”

Thankfully Stride Rite makes shoes roomy enough for growing feet, a fact my mother discovered after I was fitted at a local kids’ boutique. Say what you will about shopping online—there’s no denying deals abound for bargain hunters—but the kind of hands-on service that matches picky, hard-to-fit toddlers with the perfect pair of shoes just can’t be replicated on the Internet. It’s the same type of irreplaceable one-on-one service Tamsin Carlson provides at Wee Soles, her kids’ shoe store in Silver Lake, CA. From crawling around with her littlest customers on the floor of her trendy boutique to stocking an eclectic mix of brands, Carlson proves there will always be a niche and a need for brick-and-mortar retailers who can connect with kids and parents alike. Don’t miss Carlson’s secrets to surviving and thriving in our profile, “Sole Provider,” on p. 16.

We would be remiss if we didn’t note that boys are increasingly following footwear fads as well. As Carlson points out, pops of bold colors, like orange, will often tempt trend-shy boys into trying new silhouettes, like desert boots. That was certainly apparent during this month’s fashion shoot, a sly look at the laughable, lovable quirks of the fashion industry (p. 22). During the shoot, the boys all flocked to a pair of day-glo green K-Swiss sneakers. Clearly, a love of cool kicks knows no boundaries—and brands like Sam Edelman and Ralph Lauren are poised to take advantage of kids’ growing interest in polished footwear, as Tracey McLeod, an exec at licensing giant BBC Int’l., discusses in our Q&A, “On a Roll” on p. 18.

The key for retailers, McLeod notes, is jumping on the right fad at the right time. That’s where we come in. Earnshaw’s has been covering the children’s market for 96 years, providing invaluable insight for retailers looking to boost their bottom line. I couldn’t be more excited to be back at the magazine and working in an industry full of so many optimistic, creative leaders. And I would love to know more about what Earnshaw’s can do to help you, as a retailer, succeed. We all know it’s a tough market, with added competition from big box merchants and online vendors, but I also think it’s a time of unlimited opportunity. There are so many stories of retailers using everything from social media to community outreach to make their stores a success.

That’s part of the reason why you may notice some changes in the magazine in the next couple of months. We’re taking a page from these innovative retailers who inspire us every day and revamping some sections of our magazine and website to better serve our readers. (For example, our market calendar will now be listed online at www.earnshaws.com/calendar, where we can make up-to-the minute changes.) We will also be reaching out more via Facebook, Twitter and our newly-launched Pinterest page (follow us @EarnshawsMag).

Change can be challenging, but it can also be exciting. After all, what if Cinderella had said no to her fairy godmother? No glass slippers. And that would be a true tragedy.

Audrey Goodson Kingo

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