Shoebar at Pieces Celebrating 20 Years
We caught up with Kaye Simmons, the former owner who, at an ageless 73, refuses to retire, despite her granddaughter Becki Hicks’ purchase of the business earlier this year…Â
“20 years ago, we opened as a very large self-serve shoe store on Lakeland Drive. It was a new concept for Jackson and, over the following ten years, we opened a boutique along with it. As retail demographics in Jackson continued to change and national chains started coming in, it was very difficult as an independent to stay in the big box shoe business.
We looked around to figure out ‘What is our niche? What do we do best?’ And we found we do best as a unique boutique. We try to do the things others don’t. In our shoes, we try to be cutting edge. We’re always funky but we’re not trendy. You can buy a cool pair of shoes here and still wear them ten years from now because they’re funky, not just the hottest trend from this year.
I think we really found our niche when we downsized into a boutique. I think we’re a lot more passionate about that. It’s more customer service, it’s more one-on-one, not so much mass merchandising like in a big box store. You’re not trying to be everything to everybody. You’re trying to be something very important to that customer who is looking for a unique dress or unique pair of shoes. And she knows that she can go out and there is probably less than a 5% chance she will run in to somebody wearing what she has on. Our quantities are limited and we’ve always prided ourselves on that.
What’s new? What’s our direction? As everyone knows, there is a new owner. But I’m still around. I can’t seem to walk away and go home and read my book. I still enjoy it too much.
The direction is, for us, to try to fine tune where we’re going and figure out a better way to communicate with our customer. Social media has worked well for us. It’s a real part of today’s media. But communicating to our customer and getting that new customer that wants to stand out and be unique in the way she dresses… that’s still our objective.
Stop by on Friday, August 16 from 11am-2pm for sandwiches, chips, sweet treats, basil lemonade and mint lemonade and take advantage of the sale: everything, including sale merchandise, is 20% off all day.”
Kaye Simmons is a 45 year retail veteran. She’s been a buyer for Famous Footwear, a divisional merchandise manager for Bells of Texas and D.H. Holmes in New Orleans, and, at the start of her career, a buyer for Liberty House in Hawaii.