Market Value

I have just returned from an amazing adventure – shoe market. It’s a dream opportunity for someone like me who loves to shop, loves shoes and loves to know upcoming trends. Make no mistake, it was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun too.

We started the day at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t stop until 6 p.m. We had appointments and goals but along the way we had a great time. So here’s what happened in Vegas (that I can tell you about, anyway):

The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) is huge! Three shows were going on and we were allowed in all of them. Our main area was the FN Platform show where most of the shoe venders were set up. The entry looks like the entrance to a VIP club complete with security, roped off sections and a white carpet rolled out. Once inside the door, we were greeted by a huge sign telling us all the vendors showing in that area:

It seems overwhelming but, surprisingly, it’s not. Margaret and Kathi had discussed which lines they wanted to see, set up appointments with specific vendors and allowed a little extra time to browse. Many of the lines are easily passed by so honing in on the ones that are really important is easy.

Working with Kathi and Margaret is like walking around with a couple of rock stars – they know everyone! It’s not surprising as they’ve been doing this for 20+ years, but I did feel like a VIP in their company. Kathi told me that I should not be intimidated to walk into any booth and that she wanted my input. They both made me feel welcome and it didn’t take me long to feel as comfortable as the shoes I was wearing (which really were comfortable!).

A lot happened during the day and it would take me several posts to tell you all about it (and I’d probably leave out something) so I think it would be easiest to highlight the rest of the day.

• Sam Edelman, Stuart Weitzman and Donald Pliner are real people. Sam and Donald were there but Stuart wasn’t. I saw Sam but didn’t meet him. He was wearing kelly green pants and yellow suede shoes. Very bright!

• I learned that if you’re going to shop with Donald Pliner and he’s there, you’d better be wearing his shoes. Oops! I didn’t have mine on and he noticed! Still, he was nice and his wife was delightful. Lisa Pliner makes funky, cool shoes and I could have taken home the entire collection. Here we are with the Pliners:

• Booths range from simple to extreme. The Sam and Libby Edelman booth had couches and George Nelson lamps. Stuart Weitzman served sandwiches and had a drink selection. Another booth I saw was having a wine and cheese party. Everyone works hard so they play hard too.

• Paris Hilton was there. She arrived to promote her shoe line. We were busy with the Pliners so we didn’t partake of the media frenzy. I walked past the area but couldn’t see her. I heard later she rarely looked up from texting. She seems spoiled and rude but I’ve always thought that. Besides, the Pliners are more fun and I like there shoes much better than anything Paris could “design.”

• After awhile, shoes start looking alike. At one point, Kathi commented that she didn’t want to see another heel and Margaret and I agreed! We needed new stimulation to excite us.

• Starbucks is one of the most popular places in the LVCC. I managed to catch it when the line was just at the door rather than snaking around, but it never quit. Being nice to the employees also gets you extra goodies when the day gets long.

• We didn’t place orders at every booth. Most had their current fall selections, along with spring, so Kathi added some fall to our inventory that were available for immediate delivery. I have to insert here that we have some AMAZING boots coming to the store and they are at great prices! Seriously! I doubt my size will be left when I can buy (we have to wait to buy so our costumers have first choice). Very cool and hip.

• The next time you see a Donald Pliner shoe that’s completely beaded take a good look at it. It’s all done with glass beads and the D-man himself selects all the colors (beads, thread, cloth). I was beginning to understand better why his shoes are so expensive – they are miniature works of art!

• Samples are generally a size 6. Most booths have models to show you how the shoe looks on the foot. One of Donald’s models has been with him for 20 years. She’s an older lady named Barbie and she’s a hoot. She also has gorgeous legs!

• Everyone looks at everyone’s shoes. Margaret and Kathi were both wearing last spring’s Sam Edelman platform wedges and kept getting compliments on them. Everyone also has great pedicures. I’ve never seen so many French pedicures in one place.

• The soles of Lisa Pliner’s shoes are kelly green and she was wearing toenail polish that matched them exactly. Can you tell I had a blast at the Pliner booth?!

• The music playing during the show was like listening to my own iPod. A cool mix of 80s, disco and a little Tom Jones. Very fun.

• Some of the brands I was really excited to see ended up being disappointing in person. United Nude, the company who makes all the architectural shoes, were boring and the details lacked sophistication. Good to know.

• One of the reps for Wolff Shoe Company is a hottie. It was almost distracting to work with him, but he was really, really nice.

• Despite all the fashionable shoes, I saw a lot of tragic fashions. No matter how rich you are, you can still look like crap. I wondered if some people owned mirrors.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for a sneak peek into Spring 2011!

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