DSW is adding shoe repair services throughout its stores

Photo: Cobblers Direct
Nov 03, 2022

Consumers can now walk into any of the 500+ DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse stores with their old shoes and get them repaired. The retailer has partnered with Cobblers Direct, an online service that repairs shoes, boots, belts and handbags.

There was once a time when shoe repair shops were a common sight in many American communities, but they are much more rare today. Cobblers Direct is a spinoff of The Shoe Hospitals, the largest shoe repair company in the world. The company’s “repair over replace” model is consistent with calls for waste reduction in the fashion industry.

“DSW is hyper-focused on delighting our customers, offering diverse brands and delivering products with speed, and we coordinate with the best partners to make our business succeed,” Doug Howe, president of DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, said in a statement. “We want customers to enjoy and get the most out of their purchases, so if they ever need a product repair, DSW’s partnership with Cobblers Direct ensures convenient access to highly experienced and skilled repair services.”

Customers who need shoes repaired scan a QR code at their local DSW store, place an order using their smartphone and then hand over the items to be repaired to an associate at the counter. Once the shoes are repaired, they are returned to the store for pickup by the customer.

DSW’s Howe did not play up the sustainability element of shoe repair in his statement but Stephen Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Cobblers Direct, was direct on the issue. “We believe that repairing shoes, boots, and bags — and not throwing them away — will lead to a healthier planet and happier humanity,” he said. “Together with DSW, shoe lovers all over the country now have easy access to expert repair services so they can enjoy their beloved items once again.”

DSW’s parent company Designer Brands has posted solid results in 2022 with net sales up 5.1 percent in the second quarter on top of a 67 percent gain in 2021. The company’s second quarter same-store sales were up 6.2 percent year-over-year.

Roger Rawlins, CEO of Designer Brands, speaking in August on the company’s call pointed out that the chain racked up the satisfying numbers despite the fact that Nike items were no longer sold in its stores. The athleticwear brand ended its relationship with DSW as it focuses its attention on consumer-direct initiatives and key wholesale accounts.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the repair services throughout DSW stores encourage more consumers to repair their shoes, boots, belts and handbags instead of discarding them? Will success with this service increase the likelihood of DSW entering the footwear resale market?

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"It is refreshing to see retailers looking at sustainability in different ways. I simply love the repair over replace model."

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13 Comments on "DSW is adding shoe repair services throughout its stores"

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Mark Ryski

This is a smart add-on service that’s a perfect fit for the times. Consumers are stretched, and having a convenient place to get shoes repaired makes great sense. Not only will this new service bring customers into DSW stores and expose them to new products, but it will also generate some incremental revenue. While I’m not certain this is a precursor to DSW entering the re-sale market, it certainly provides the foundation to do just that.

Melissa Minkow

This is a creative way to draw consumers into stores that maybe wouldn’t be planning on it otherwise. Retailers need to be thinking about different ways to get people in stores, beyond just recycling products. I hope we’ll continue to see a variety of strategies that achieve this.

David Spear

This is a fantastic bolt-on service that will get used by many consumers, including me! I have several quality belts hanging on my belt rack in my closet that are in need of repair. I think I’ll make a trip over to my local DSW this weekend!

Lucille DeHart

It is refreshing to see retailers looking at sustainability in different ways. I simply love the repair over replace model. I think it fosters store traffic, builds brand engagement and will drive higher conversions and loyalty.

Liza Amlani

DSW adding shoe repair services will get their customers back into the stores. Implementing strategies that encourage footfall is what retailers should be doing. Getting consumers in front of product while providing a necessary service to extend the product lifecycle will drive brand loyalty as well as revenue.

DeAnn Campbell

The only thing surprising to me is that this isn’t already a standard for every shoe selling chain.

Mohamed Amer, PhD

Brilliant! The sooner we move from being a throwaway society to a mend-and-reuse one, the better off we will be. When retailers embrace a trend and have those inherent forces support and amplify their expanded business model, financial success follows. Again, a brilliant move by DSW to connect the old world’s practicality with the new world’s environmental conservation.

Lee Peterson

A better idea would be to do a little repair/cleaning then sell them again: i.e.; create a circular commerce division. A recent study of ours showed that consumers are really looking for that from every retail vertical. Fun shopping, inexpensive and good for the environment — what’s not to like?

Ken Morris

With Nike abandoning DSW, they have to get creative by pivoting — and they’re succeeding. The repair services is a great idea for DSW. They provide a service that’s hard to find, and they’re getting the customer into the store twice for each repair: to drop off and pick up. If you can get them to walk in, you should be able to convert them into a new sale. The use of QR codes is smart, too, and the sustainability aspect is becoming increasingly important to consumers. As for DSW entering the footwear resale market, I think it’s a natural next step for them (pun intended).

Gene Detroyer

Consumers can now walk into any of the 500+ DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse stores with their old shoes and get them repaired — and even buy a new pair. What is not to like about this endeavor? Resale could be a nice addition, though more complex.

When people think of shoes in any way, they will think of DSW.

Kai Clarke

Smart, eco-friendly, and great marketing. Adding shoe repair to all DSW stores gets more consumers into the store, gets them to return later to pick up their repaired shoes, and allows DSW to market their products directly to the consumer each time while offering a great service to that customer. This can only be a good thing for DSW!

Craig Sundstrom

I don’t see an immediate connection between the two (offering repairs and resale). And while I think it’s nice that DSW is offering the service, it will have to face the reality of why repair shops declined in the first place: many shoes — particularly casual/”athletic” footwear that have become ubiquitous — simply aren’t repairable.

Shep Hyken

What a perfect service to add to the mix at DSW. First, it plays into the popularity of sustainability. Second, it’s an additional source of revenue. I don’t know if DSW is your one-stop-shop for all-things shoes, but they are heading that direction.

"It is refreshing to see retailers looking at sustainability in different ways. I simply love the repair over replace model."

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