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DSW Shoes Launching ‘Lids’ Shop-in-Stores in Canada Amid Strategy Shift [Interviews]

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Leading sports retailer Lids, known for selling headwear, is partnering with Designer Brands to launch 45 shop-in-shop concept stores at DSW Designer Shoe and The Shoe Company locations throughout Canada.

“At Lids, we’re always looking for new ways to bring our unparalleled assortment of licensed sports apparel and headwear to more customers,” said Lawrence Berger, Co-Founder and Partner at Ames Watson and Chairman of FanzzLids Holdings which is the owner of Lids. “Designer Brands offers a one-stop-shop for footwear and accessory needs and we’re looking forward to complementing that with Lids’ diverse offerings to better serve Canadian customers.

Lawrence Berger

“There’s a number of reasons why we’re doing this. We love the Canadian market. It’s among our strongest markets and we think it’s going to bounce back very strongly after it opens up from COVID. We believe that there’s an opportunity to bring to the Canadian market a lot of really interesting products.

“We got approached by DSW to do this and we jumped at the opportunity to work with them for a number of reasons. We love their stores. Many of their stores are bigger. They’ve got a lot of space. A lot of our buyers who are buying hats and jerseys have just come from buying a pair of shoes. So they’re buying hats and jerseys to match. If you look at where our Lids stores are in the mall they’re often near a Footlocker or some other shoe company.”

Indianapolis-based Lids carries licensed and branded gear and is the largest headwear retailer in North America, with over 28 million sold per year across their 1,200 locations. The company has about 200 stores in Canada. Stores sell not only hats but jerseys, T-shirts, and other products.

Berger said about two-thirds of the stores are hat stores while one-third are larger stores that sell various licenced sports products. The larger stores are about 1,500 to 2,500 square feet while the smaller stores are about 1,000 square feet.

In the United States, the company also has a partnership with the retail giant Macy’s where Lids operates a store within a store in the larger department retailer.

“We’ve tried to bring far more interesting product into our stores. A lot of exclusive product,” said Berger.

He said the company has seen strong sales even during the pandemic.

“We might be the only retailer in the country or in North America that’s been actively expanding. So in the last six months, we’ve added almost 70 stores. We do believe that there’s opportunity to expand. We do believe that coming out of COVID people are going to want to get out into the mall. We believe that the shopping experience in our stores is complementary to the shopping experience online . . . We think people want to get out,” said Berger.

“And we think that also coming out of COVID who isn’t thinking about going back to a baseball game or a hockey game. We think there’s going to be really strong demand for product . . . So we’re very, very bullish on expansion and we’re very bullish on trying to do interesting product for fans.”

Interior of DSW store. Photo: DSW

The shop-in-shop formats with DSW and The Shoe Company will range from headwear displays to mini shops that include licensed jerseys.

Product will primarily include licensed headwear and jerseys, with an emphasis on gear representing top Canadian sports teams.

“We are thrilled to partner with Lids on the roll-out of store-in-store boutiques offering licensed sports merchandise to local fan communities across the country,” said Mary Turner, President of Designer Brands Operations in Canada. “We believe that Lids’ merchandise provides great synergies with our growing athletics assortments while allowing us to tap into a younger customer demographic.”

The first in-store shop-in-shop concept between Lids and Designer Brands will launch on May 15 along with the online assortment. Berger said the Lids store-within-a store will be about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet.

Berger said this is a first step for the company and he’s hoping to launch more shop-in-shop locations.

“We think it’s going to be successful. We believe DSW thinks it’s going to be successful and if that’s the case we would expect to grow in Canada and also the United States,” he said.

Exterior of The Shoe Company. Photo: Ivanhoe Cambridge

“Our hope is to expand with a lot of other big retailers. We love the store within a store model. We think it works great for us. We think that the customer finds it really interesting. We think they’re pleasantly surprised walking into a Macy’s and seeing the whole set up and we think they’ll be pleasantly surprised walking through DSW seeing the set up there now.”

Berger said the female customer share for Lids has grown substantially over the years and will continue to grow.

“The female buying for herself has grown but a very big driver for us is that females are buying for their kids and they’re buying for their spouses,” he said.

Mary Turner

“We think that customers are obviously going to lots of different stores. They’re shopping in different ways and we believe that there are lots of ways to reach those customers. And we think it’s a very, very broad customer base. “

Lids Sports Group operates stores under the Lids, Locker Room by Lids, Fanzz, Yankees Clubhouse Shops, Dodgers Clubhouse, Cardinals Clubhouse, and numerous other nameplates.

Designer Brands is one of North America’s largest designers, producers, and retailers of footwear and accessories. The company operates a portfolio of retail concepts in nearly 700 locations under the DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, The Shoe Company, and Shoe Warehouse banners.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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