A Retailer Not Named Wal-Mart Brings Low Prices to Chicago
Kids love the sneakers and clothes it sells. Parents love knowing that those very shoes (most sold for $10 or less) and clothes are often priced lower than comparable items sold by Wal-Mart.
The retailer that kids and their parents love is Steve & Barry’s and the company is looking to Chicagoland as a market with tremendous growth potential.
Andy Todd, president of Steve & Barry’s, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We see room for several stores in the city and 30 more in the suburbs… We would like to open one store in the city in the next year and another one after that. We are hoping to be on State Street in the next two years.”
Steve & Barry’s currently operates 11 stores in Illinois, including six in the Chicagoland area. It plans to open two more 60,000 square-foot stores by the end of the year.
The chain’s success has become widespread and yet it still enjoys a cult-like following among its faithful customers.
“Our shoppers are like early Macintosh [computer] users. We’re like the best-kept secret you’ve stumbled across. You are ‘cool’ if you’re in the know,” said Mr. Todd.
The company’s business model relies on cutting costs with what the Sun-Times describes as “an obsessive zeal.” The company foregoes expensive advertising campaigns, instead focusing on creating an exciting and entertaining environment with deals made with music companies and Hollywood allowing the retailer to play video trailers and new music in its stores.
Steve & Barry’s growth plans go well beyond Chicago. In the past year, the chain has doubled its number of stores to 143 in 32 states. It plans to have 568 in operation around the country by 2008.
“Eventually we should have thousands of stores,” said Mr. Todd.
Discussion Questions: What makes Steve & Barry’s successful? What do you see as the challenges facing the company as it tries to go from its current
143 stores to the “thousands of stores” predicted by Andy Todd? Will it be able to hold onto its “best-kept secret” aura as it grows?