Converse, San Francisco
The Converse flagship in San Francisco is not only the sneaker brand’s first Northern California location; it’s also its largest and most innovative location to date. The 8,200-sq.-ft. store, which features Converse’s full line-up of footwear, apparel and accessories, is big on personalization, with an interactive system for designing one-of-a-kind Converse sneakers and clothing.
The “Converse Customization” process allows customers to screen-print their own designs or graphics selected from the company’s catalog of various styles of footwear, apparel and accessories. Using iPads, customers can browse more than 150 Converse-curated graphics, including designs that tie back to the San Francisco community, to create their own product by adding grommets, different colored shoe laces and more.
The store design pays tribute to the building’s original structure with authentic and raw industrial elements, including original concrete and tile throughout. A black metal staircase is located in the middle of the space with an eye-catching ‘Sneaker Chandelier’ positioned above it.
The second floor — which houses women’s, kids and premium footwear collections — includes a gallery-like space for the display of work by local artists, in-store music performances and events.
Wealth effect not in play at Walmart
Surging home prices and 401K balances have millions of Americans feeling better about their personal balance sheets and the state of the economy, but Walmart’s core shoppers remain under duress and that could spell trouble for second quarter sales.
A still-challenging job market, a lack of wage growth and high energy costs means Walmart’s core paycheck-to-paycheck shopper is still making hard choices in store aisles between necessities and discretionary products and small versus large pack sizes. Evidence to that effect will be presented on August 15 when Walmart releases second quarter results for the period ended July 26.
The company’s second quarter same-store sales forecast is relatively modest, at flat to up 2%, but the U.S. stores division is lapping a prior year period when comps increased 2.2%. It is also worth noting that Walmart posted a 1.6% same-store sales decline in the first quarter ended April 30. There were some valid reasons for the weakness, which were acknowledged by others as well, such as the delay in income tax checks coupled with a payroll tax increase, a cold wet spring that negatively affected seasonal sales and reduced food inflation.
Some of those factors benefited second quarter results since tax refunds and seasonal sales were pushed into the early part of the second quarter. That said, there is a growing sense that momentum early in the quarter was not sustained. That, coupled with the fact that the bulk of back-to-school sales will fall into the second quarter, have created a sense of anxiety that Walmart’s second quarter sales forecast could be in jeopardy.
Free market voice argues for Walmart’s Boston presence
Left-leaning individuals in large urban areas find lots of reasons to dislike Walmart, so it is noteworthy when someone in a liberal stronghold forcefully sides with Walmart and personal freedom.
That was the case in Boston this week when the Boston Globe ran an article by Shirley Leung with the headline, “It’s time to say yes to Walmart.”
She acknowledged the familiar narrative put forth by those who seek to block Walmart’s expansion.
“It’s too easy to paint the world’s biggest retailer as the big bad wolf. You’ve read the script: It decimates mom-and-pop businesses, underpays workers and blights communities,” Leung wrote. “It is so evil that, according to a recent Globe survey, more mayoral candidates would rather see a casino in the city limits than a Walmart.”
However, Boston isn’t the former Soviet Union and the city’s residents should be allowed to choose where to shop. In essence, Leung makes the point that competition and the forces of a free market economy should be allowed to function.
Residents of the state aren’t strangers to Walmart; the company does operate nearly 50 stores there, including a unit in Northborough about an hour west of Boston that was recently expanded to a supercenter. However, there is nothing in Boston proper with the closest stores located on the north side of the city in Lynn and the south side in Quincy.
Click here to see what else the Globe had to say about Walmart.