For the past 24 years, the Shoe Inn Warehouse Sale in the Hamptons has been a must-see for local residents and bargain hunters vacationing in the East.
This year’s sale, which runs through August 30, is bigger than ever – with 10,000 pairs of shoes from over 100 brands. Prices start at $ 15 for thongs and up to $ 249 for high-end boots. (Original prices were as high as $ 795.)
It is also taking place in a new location, in the old Pier 1 store in Southampton, which is considerably larger than the old American Legion space in Amagansett.
The expanded space allowed Shoe Inn to run the sale safely, with proper social distancing and other measures in place, including crowd control, a mandatory mask policy, hand sanitizer to door, temperature controls and disposable feet available for each customer.
Peter Lawson, vice president of Shoe Inn – which has been a family business for more than four decades – said that in March, the coronavirus forced the retailer to cancel its annual sale in New York and temporarily close all of its stores.
And the Hamptons event wasn’t a given either. “We were nervous about the sale until we found the location of Pier 1,” said Lawson, noting that Shoe Inn had moved end-of-season stock from its other eight locations in the tri-state to the Hamptons. “We haven’t had any complaints. There was an excellent response.
Top brands include Steve Madden, Stuart Weitzman, Fiorentini + Baker, Birkenstock, Dr. Martens, Sam Edelman, Kenneth Cole – and accessories ranging from bags to scarves to gloves were also a big hit.
The sales come at a pivotal time for Shoe Inn, which is moving forward with two new openings during the pandemic. The brand is making a comeback in the city with a store on the Upper East Side, at 3rd Avenue and 77th Street. It will also move to Closter Plaza, an upscale New Jersey center.
“We are one of the great independents that remain,” noted Lawson, who gained experience at Steve Madden before joining the family business a few years ago and working alongside his parents, Billy and Melissa. “People always want to come in and try on shoes. “
Increasing its digital presence has been another priority for the retailer. “Our web business was booming for [the height of] coronavirus. We had people working to ship shoes three days a week. “
While business has been tough, with traffic still low in the store list, Lawson expects East Hampton and West Hampton units to benefit from a longer Hamptons season. “Fall will not be the same as usual. A lot of people have extended their rentals until October and November, ”he noted.
Plus, with stores in Connecticut suburbs like Scarsdale, New Canaan, and Westport, Lawson expects to attract more stay-at-home students this fall – as long as there isn’t a second wave of virus.