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Shoe Carnival is an American family footwear store based in Evansville, Indiana. The company was incorporated in 1993 and is publicly traded (NASDAQ: SCVL); it is an S&P 600 Component. In 2017, the store reported a revenue of over $1 billion and more than 4,000 employees. It operates brick-and-mortar stores as well as a full e-commerce website.
Shoe Carnival offers nationally and regionally popular brands of shoes in dress, casual, and athletic styles. The company describes itself as a family shoe store with a passion for creating fun, engaging, and affordable shopping experiences! Besides both public and private-label shoe brands, Shoe Carnival also sells accessories such as bags, wallets, socks, and shoe care items.
About Shoe Carnival
The store got its start in 1978 in Evansville, Indiana. It was founded by David Russell under the original name of Shoe Biz. Russell was a 34-year-old shoe salesman who was tired of the traditional methods of selling shoes to customers. He quit his job and opened his own shop with new selling and advertising techniques. Instead of having all the available shoes in the back room, Shoe Biz had all the shoe boxes arranged in-store on self-service racks.
Jukebox music was played through the speakers, occasionally interrupted by announcements about surprise sales and deals on footwear. Managers were instructed to beat all other prices from other shoe competitors, and customers were allowed to bargain over prices. By encouraging customers to be self-serving and self-sufficient, Russell employed fewer salespeople and thus was able to keep prices lower and boost profits.
Shoe Biz quickly became one of the most popular shoe stores in the area, generating $8 million in annual sales by 1984. By 1986, Shoe Biz expanded to four local shops. Despite the rapid growth, the company retained its fun and exciting shopping atmosphere and continued to attract customers. Fun games were introduced, sometimes off-the-cuff, and customers loved the experience. One contest was a free pair of tennis shoes to the customer who could hula hoop the longest; another competition was a discount to a customer who had aspirin in their purse for the store manager.
From Shoe Biz to Shoe Carnival
The small chain of Shoe Biz locations was popular enough to catch the eye of executives at Fisher-Camuto, a company that manufactured designer shoes such as Nine West and Gloria Vanderbilt. Executives Jerome Fisher, Vince Camuto, and J. Wayne Weaver met with David Russell and agreed to a sale of Shoe Biz. Russel sold his controlling interest but remained in charge of the company’s operations as a chief executive.
In 1987, the Fisher-Camuto executives re-branded Shoe Biz as Shoe Carnival and opened three more locations. The three new locations were a smashing success and the store quickly expanded to a total of 15 outlets.
In 1989, original founder David Russell partnered with J. Wayne Weaver, then the executive of Nine West, to purchase Shoe Carnival from Fisher-Camuto for $17 million. The store was again an independent operation, but this time with Weaver as chairman and Russell as chief executive. By the end of 1989, Shoe Carnival was boasting 30 stores in nine states and 1,500 employees.
By mid-1993, Shoe Carnival had grown to a chain of 41 stores. The executives opted to slow down expansion and instead to focus on improving the current stores. In order to generate more capital to expand and grow, the store converted from a private company to a publicly held and traded company. The store changed from a Chapter S corporation to a public company with the ticker symbol SCVL. This initial offering resulted in $28 million of capital for the company. Growth picked up again after the initial stock offering and by the end of 1993, sales reached $157 million with $6 million of that being pure profit.
Evolution and Competition
Although revenues rose to $214 million in 1994, Shoe Carnival’s net income and profitability fell. New stores were opened in Detroit, Alabama, and Georgia, but failed to reach expected success. The store also attempted a foray into private-label shoes that were not as popular as was hoped; the private-label simply couldn’t compete against the nationally loved brands. Competitors such as Payless Shoe Source were cropping up all over the country and directly challenging Shoe Carnival’s self-service style. The store decided to slow down on expansion in 1995 and instead focus on lowering costs and expenses.
David Russell resigned from his company in 1996 due to health concerns. The new President and CEO, Mark L. Lemond, began restructuring Shoe Carnival to upgrade and modernize its image and boost income. Eight under-performing stores were closed, administrative staff was cut by 10 percent, new national brands were introduced on shelves, and the overall look of the store was revamped.
By 1996, sales had doubled and continued to climb to $519.7 million in 2002. A new advertising firm was hired in November 2004, and 80 stores were revamped between 2002 and 2004. Today, Shoe Carnival operates over 400 stores in 33 U.S. States and Puerto Rico.
Company Concept and Locations
From its humble beginnings in Indiana in 1978 to its new locations in 33 states, Shoe Carnival still strives to create a unique shopping experience for customers. Visitors to the store will enjoy contests, games, music, neon lights, and an all-around fun atmosphere to shop in. Value pricing, open store format, and low-cost structure all distinguish the store from any other competitor.
Popular Brands Offered
Stores by State/Region
Shoe Carnival has a strong philanthropic sense of community dedication. Specifically, in the Evansville area, the company sponsors many nonprofit programs to positively impact children and the surrounding community as a whole. They are a title sponsor of Walk the Runway, a local event to benefit court-appointed advocates and title sponsor of Point Man Golf Outing to benefit local veterans and their families. The store prides itself on maintaining and cultivating their hometown roots in the same city the company started.
Shoe Carnival still has its headquarters where it all started: Evansville, Indiana. In 2006, the company moved into a brand new, 60,000 square-foot, $40 million corporate headquarters and distribution center.
The company also built a 410,000 square-foot distribution center north of Evansville. Each store, on average, stocks approximately 28,0000 pairs of shoes of various sizes and styles. The distribution center and top-of-the-line tracking system keep the stores stocked with the top demands to ensure that customer needs are always met.
Executive Team as of November 2018
The mailing address for the store headquarters is 7500 East Columbia Street, Evansville, IN, 47715-9127.
The store headquarters can be reached on the corporate phone line at (812) 867-6471, and to contact investor relations, you can contact W. Kerry Jackson at (812) 867-4037.
Another means of contacting the store is via their website: www.shoecarnival.com.
E-Commerce and Social Media
Shoe Carnival is highly active on various social media platforms and regularly interact with their customers. They are active on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Shoe Carnival Awards
The Shoe Carnival website debuted in 2012 allowing a comfortable online shopping experience to customers who are not located near a brick-and-mortar store. The store broke $1 billion in total sales in 2016 thanks to the unique triptych of store success, e-commerce, and a new program called Shoes2U. Shoes2U enabled shoppers to purchase shoes from other stores in the store’s chain. Online digital sales were the fastest-growing aspect of the store, boosting the company’s sales to $528.8 million in the first half of the fiscal year of 2018.
What sets Shoe Carnival apart from its competitors is the concept of fun and urgency to buy. Throughout the day, managers announce special discounts and promotions for a limited time; this concept was introduced back in 1978 and continues today. Traditionally, the company preferred opening locations on strip mall storefronts but have explored interior locations in large, indoor malls to keep up with customer preferences. The company is also looking into developing smaller stores for smaller companies and a more intimate shopping experience
The company prides itself on self-funding development work, real estate, and expansion goals. The store’s dedication to its founding purposes yet its malleability to modern shopping trends has allowed the company to continue to grow throughout the United States.