Lucky Shoes has opened in its new, expanded location not far from its longtime store.
The shoe retailer in its fourth generation of family ownership moved from the west end of the Fairlawn Town Centre on West Market Street to anchor the east end.
The owners weren’t planning to move but agreed to the change, prompted by nearby Giant Eagle’s expansion designs.
A move by the grocer required taking Lucky Shoes’ old 18,000-square-foot space. The domino effect included moving GNC to another storefront and relocating Pet Supplies Plus to part of a larger space long ago vacated by Circuit City next to Target.
Pet Supplies Plus grew from a 6,900-square-foot store to 11,000 square feet. WP Realty, which owns the strip center, said an Ashley Furniture store will take the remaining 27,000 square feet of the former Circuit City. Two remaining small storefronts in the center are vacant, but WP is in negotiations for those spots, said Dan Fuchs, vice president of development and construction for Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based WP.
Lucky Shoes reopened in its new complex — which is actually four different storefronts 20 percent larger than its previous location — on April 13. The store closed on April 7 and moved 24,000 pairs of shoes to the new store, adding 6,000 new shoes before opening the new complex.
In addition to an expanded Lucky Shoes, with new brands and expanded product lines, the company re-established its lines of New Balance and Stride Rite.
The store has added a stand-alone SAS outlet, which are comfort shoes known for a wide variety of sizes. It is the third such store in Ohio. Tom Luck, chairman and chief executive officer of Lucky Shoes, said the family store has carried SAS for years, but he wanted an SAS-only store.
The SAS store has sizes from slim to wide-wide for women and up to Plus XXX for men, said Luck.
“Between all of our stores [in the new complex], if we can’t fit them or satisfy them, they can’t find it in Akron,” said Luck.
Lucky Shoes holds rights to open three more SAS stores in the Cleveland/Canton and possibly Columbus area if this new store does well, Luck said. All shoes sold in the SAS store are made in the U.S., said John Luck, Tom’s son and president of the company.
The main Lucky Shoes store has expanded its offerings, including featuring the first Johnston & Murphy men’s department, including shirts, briefcases and shoes, outside of a company-owned store. Lucky Shoes is serving as a test market for products other than shoes, and sales are going well so far, said Tom Luck.
The store now has the full line of Vera Bradley bags and accessories and has expanded its Brighton jewelry area. It has also added some new lines of shoes, including Cole Haan for men, Arcopedico for women, Ariat cowboy boots and Big Buddha handbags and shoes.
“We’ve gone a little more fashionable than we used to carry,” said John Luck.
“We’ve gone a little younger in our fashion” while still having the brands and fashions long-time customers expect, he said.
“If someone were there on the last day and here on the first day, they’d see new things in every line,” said John Luck.
Marti Calderwood and Jan DeVitis, both of Akron, were on their second trip into the new Lucky Shoes in four days on a recent day.
“We weren’t done shopping” the last time, said DiVitis. The women were buying shoes to get ready for the Metroparks’ Spring Hiking Spree.
“It’s nice and airy,” DiVitis said of the new store format.
The New Balance store has wood floors and brick walls with a big leather couch and shoes displayed in alcoves to look like picture frames. Twenty-five percent of all New Balance shoes are made in the U.S. Lucky Shoes has opted to sell the higher quality New Balance shoes, so 50 percent of the shoes available at Lucky are made in the U.S., said John Luck.
The Lucky corporate headquarters also moved with its 13 employees. There are 43 people employed in the four stores, up from the high 30s and the Lucks say they need about 10 more.
Companywide, there are 125 employees and 15 locations in Ohio.
Giant Eagle officials said it was too early to discuss specifics of the grocer’s expansion plans.
“We continue to consider various options for the expansion of this Fairlawn Giant Eagle location, and currently have no confirmed plans to begin construction on the site,” said spokesman Dan Donovan.
WP Realty is now nearly 100 percent occupied with the addition of Ashley Furniture Homestore. The renovated stores are a definite plus to the center, said Fuchs.
“We think it’s great. Definitely having [Lucky Shoes] at that end anchors that side. The Pet Supplies Plus started the redevelopment of the building and made way for the Giant Eagle [expansion],” said Fuchs.