Since 1966, Big ‘N Little Shoes has specialized in size-and-width, support and prescription footwear, offering just the right amount of comfort and style to tots, teens and well-shod adults. There’s even a certified pedorthist on staff—no appointment necessary. The Windy City spot stocks everything from popular picks like Hush Puppies, New Balance and Clarks to kids’ staples like Stride Rite and Jumping Jacks. Store manager John Gold notes that while Big ‘N Little plans to grow its Internet business this year, it will continue to focus on its decades-old philosophy of offering a wide range of sizes and selection.
What makes your store unique? We carry things you can’t get anywhere else, including exclusive brands like Z-CoiL and hard-to-find sizes like women’s widths up to 40W, men’s sizes up to 16 and women’s up to 13.
Current top-selling brands: Gravity Defyer, New Balance and Propét for adults and Stride Rite and Jumping Jacks for kids.
Top-selling accessories: We do a heck of a job with children’s hairbows from Wee Ones. Best new brand added to the mix in the past year: Definitely Gravity Defyer. They’re well-made, comfortable shoes.
Just how has the non-winter to date impacted your sales? Actually, sales have been pretty good. Without the bad weather we’ve certainly had more traffic than usual. And although boot sales aren’t what they normally are, we’ve picked up everywhere else. People are out and about a lot more when the weather is nice.
How might it affect your buying plans for next fall? Less boots, perhaps? We’ll probably carry about the same. The nice thing about boots is the styles don’t change that radically from year to year. We’re so size-driven that if it fits and it’s dry, style isn’t necessarily that important. What’s your take on the shaping and toning category? Is it dead or alive? It’s on life support. It’s not dead yet, but I get few requests for it.
How have the habits of your customer base changed since the recession? Certainly, they’re spending less money. Multiple pairs are tougher to sell, but since we are more of a destination store, if we’ve got your size and it fits, you’re going to buy something.