After six months in a temporary location while the original store underwent a metamorphosis behind temporary walls, the Shoe Dept. in Statesboro Mall reopened Friday as a Shoe Dept. Encore store, occupying an entire interior corner in the middle of the mall.
Shoe Dept. is a brand division of Shoe Show Inc., which operates 1,145 stores in 42 states. A Shoe Dept. Encore is a sort of Shoe Dept. superstore.
"We're glad to be able to bring it to Statesboro. ...," said Sam Johnson, district manager for Shoe Show Inc. "We'll be able to carry more brands, a little higher quality as well."
Previously, the Shoe Dept. occupied an L-shaped space, wrapped around other stores. For its transformation, the shoe store was expanded to fill out the rectangle. It took in the corner previously occupied by Friedman's Jewelers - which went out of business seven years ago - as well as two other vacant storefronts.
Now, from the mall's front entrance to the corner opposite Hallmark there is nothing but Shoe Dept. Encore's black-framed glass revealing aisles and aisles of shoes inside. In the direction of Belk, the shoe store extends all the way to the Hair Plus salon.
The new store measures nearly 14,000 square feet, almost twice the size of the old one.
A Shoe Show Inc. news release lists Aerosoles, Clarks, Columbia, Easy Spirit, Florsheim, Liz Claiborne, Nine West, Rockport, Rocky Boots, Skechers, Steve Madden, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, as well as Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Keds, K Swiss and Adidas as brands carried by the Shoe Dept. division's stores.
Asked what he meant by some higher-quality options, Johnson said, "There's a possibility you'll start seeing some Cole Haan, some Merrell, some higher priced work boots, ... Wolverines. We'll have more selection of Clark products, Nike products as well."
The Shoe Dept. previously offered about six Nike lines, but the expanded store now has more than 40 styles of Nikes, said Jennifer Ellis, the store manager at Shoe Dept. Encore.
The store also has features designed to attract family shoppers and encourage browsing. A TV screen in the children's section carries Nickelodeon. The screen in the men's shoes area offers ESPN.
A bigger wall of purses and a clearance room have also been added.
On Friday, customers were taking notice of the new store's emergence from its cocoon while employees were still getting used to their new surroundings.
"We're loving it, and all the customers are loving it too," Ellis said.
The store opens seven days a week, and with the expansion the hours are being extended. Its staff has grown from 12 employees to 21, Ellis said.
Part of the ‘Show'
Shoe Show Inc. is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina. Robert B. Tucker opened the first Shoe Show store 55 years ago.
The company has achieved some of its growth by acquiring competitors or, in some cases, buying a portion of their stores. Shoe Show purchased Burlington Shoes in 1986. Starting with seven stores, the Burlington Shoes/Shoe Dept. division has grown to 681 stores.
After further acquisitions, Shoe Show Inc. launched its Shoe Dept. Encore division in 2008. Today the corporation has more than 8,900 employees nationwide.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.