As an independent shoe rep who represents 8 – 12 different lines at a time, Chris Carpenter, really knows the market trends in this industry. He loves his life on the road visiting retail outlets throughout the western United States. We caught up with him at his home as he caught up on some rest and relaxation before his next trip.
Chris, tell me about the lines you represent.
I represent a broad array of shoe lines. The majority of the lines are from Europe. They are quality comfort and fashion brands from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Germany. I’m also representing some Chinese brands where the quality and design are continually getting better and better. Basically, I’m always looking for hot, new lines that will fit into my portfolio. I don’t want my brands to overlap or compete with each other. I really enjoy launching new lines in stores and regions they haven’t been before.
How did you get started in this industry?
I started out working in the JC Penney shoe department. I’ve worked at Kids Footlocker and as a shoe department manager at Nordstrom. I moved to southern California and eventually began working for Laurevan Shoe Corp. I thought, ‘I could be selling out there’ and just started doing it.
How long have you been coming to TRU Show?
I’ve been with TRU Show for about 8 years. It’s a great show. For a lot of us shoe reps, it’s the first show of the season. We can use it as a fact finding event. I see what’s hot and what’s not and get a great head start to guide me for the season. There’s a great camaraderie at the show. People look forward to getting together at this show.
I also see more variety in the accounts that come to TRU show and I definitely have more access to the boutique customers.
What do you love about your job?
I love a lot about my job. Working for smaller companies, I can really make a difference. It’s rewarding launching a new line and seeing it grow. I also love to travel to the stores; being on the road, with the buyers, in their stores and getting to know how they do business.
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