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Shopping List: Athletic

Fashion still drives the sneaker markets, but these days retailers are also considering other factors.

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VILLA (formerly Sneaker Villa), Philadelphia
Patrick Walsh, VP of marketing

Store count: 25 (average 4,500 sq. ft.)
Open since: 1989
Buying plan: “To provide consumers with the latest in urban fashion.”
Hunting for: “Performance running at an affordable price.” 
Strategy shift: “We’re in rough neighborhoods that are economically challenged, [so we need to] make sure we’re bringing in products at better price points.”
View on the economy: “It’s challenging, but it forces us to be better merchants. When the economy is down, it just means that those who are good will survive and those who aren’t won’t be around [afterward].”  
Lesson learned from spring ’09: “Weather is unpredictable. Make sure you’re ready for spring, but not overexposed.”
Current bestsellers: “High-tops. Also Adidas Superstars, Converse Chuck Taylors, Nike ACG, Nike Blazers and Nike Dunks.”
Best price point: “Nike ACG sneakers for around $70.”
Fall ’09 forecast: “I believe the market is flattening and the worst is behind us. People are looking for value, and value doesn’t mean cheap.”
Next big thing: “A resurgence of the traditional brands — Adidas, Chuck Taylors.”
On the way out: “High-tops.”

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