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When Atlantans Ali and Shina Hasan were looking to embark on a new career path, the husband and wife decided to open a shoe store. Because both had expertise in the men’s arena — Shina is a 13-year veteran of the men’s specialty retail business, while husband Ali owned a barbershop — catering the store to an all-male audience seemed a natural fit. The couple bowed their 1,200-sq.-ft. shop in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead area in late 2007, aptly naming it Tagotti Shoes (“tagotti” is Italian for “new beginning”).
For Ali Hasan, an admitted shoe lover, the store is an opportunity to bring men, an often-overlooked group for footwear, a destination dedicated to them. “Men love shoes just like women do and need their own space,” he said.
The couple took their men’s concept one step further and decided to specialize in extended sizes up to 18. “We get a lot of big guys who want nice shoes,” said Hasan about this niche market. “We have quality, good-looking shoes for the everyday man.”
While the store serves a local clientele, Tagotti also is becoming a magnet for traveling professional athletes who wear larger sizes. “It was a decision from day one [to go after this business],” said Hasan, whose former barbershop customers included sports figures such as Joe Johnson and Steve Smith of the Atlanta Hawks.
THE RIGHT MIX
Tagotti offers fashion-forward casual and dress looks from Cole Haan, Kenneth Cole, Mark Nason and others, with 70 percent of sales done in sizes 14 and 15. Sneakers are also part of the mix, from brands such as Puma Black Label, PF Flyers and Lacoste. In addition, the store stocks a selection of edgier Italian lines, including Stefano Castelli, Doucal’s and Roberto Guerrini. Prices, which range from $55 for PF Flyers sneakers to $1,200 for Mauri boots, are designed to fit every budget. “We have high-fashion to conservative dress looks,” said Ali Hasan, noting that a broad offering appeals to Buckhead’s diverse shoppers, who include businessmen and the hip-hop crowd. “We cover all areas, including golf shoes by Callaway.”
As the store’s only staffers, the Hasans typically close by 7 p.m. each evening, but not at the expense of a few good sales. “We’ll stick around even if it’s a beautiful evening,” said Hasan, noting that the store gets walk-in traffic from neighboring restaurants. Tagotti also stays open for any customer who can’t shop during normal business hours.
Always on-site, the owners know their clientele personally. They routinely send thank-you notes after a customer’s first visit and send e-mails when new merchandise arrives that might interest a particular customer.
For men looking to shop around the clock, the Hasans operate a Website. Today, 50 percent of their sales are done online. “If you don’t plan to be on the Internet, you don’t plan to be in business,” said Hasan. “There’s a bigger audience than just Atlanta.”
The store’s contemporary décor features an exposed ceiling and concrete floors, with shoes displayed on tables and slat wall displays. Mirrors suspended from the ceiling allow customers to easily see themselves in the shoes. For added atmosphere, TV monitors play a commercial the Hasans ran on ESPN and TNT during the 2009 NBA Playoffs.