BCBG, Sam Edelman, Vince Camuto, Chuck Taylor, Steve Madden, Calvin Klein, and Puma: those are just some of the brand names on hand as Army & Navy (various locations) gears up for its legendary shoe sale, Wednesday to Sunday (May 1 to 5).
The century-old department store’s annual footwear event has been running for seven decades, with an impressive inventory this year that boasts more than 20,000 pairs of markdown shoes priced between $4.99 to $59.99.
“This year, our target for our shoe event is very inexpensive pricing. Most shoes will be under $40,” Silvio Urbani, Army & Navy’s shoe buyer, explained to the Straight in an interview. “Because of the 100th birthday, this year’s shoe sale pricing will be even more competitive than previous years.”
This means those who love a good heel will find deals like classic canvas TOMS for $19, Sam Edelman wedge espadrilles sandals for $39, tall Aldo boots for $19, and Calvin Klein flat loafers for $34. A variety of shoe styles will be stocked on shelves, including but not limited to knee-high leather boots, runners, ballet flats, flip-flops, mules, heels, and sneakers.
Urbani knows how much excitement the annual event generates, and works hard to find in-season product for a good value. It takes 12 months to plan and execute the store’s blowout sale.
“Every year is different, every buying season is different,” said Urbani. “I always follow whatever is the trend, and then find the product that will give our customers the best value.”
Besides shoes, shoppers will also find in-store birthday deals on fashion apparel, workwear, camping supplies, and home goods. One-dollar women’s tank tops, $2 fedora hats, and $9 puffer jackets will be available.
“This is about saying thank you to the community, for supporting a business that has been in operation for a century,” explained Urbani. “The whole concept of Army & Navy is that the deal gets passed onto our consumers. We work really hard on always trying to find the best prices.”
Not many local companies can boast a centenary milestone, which makes Army & Navy’s president and CEO Jacqui Cohen even more proud and grateful. She is the granddaughter of the founder of the Vancouver-born institution, and she continues to oversee the business with a hands-on approach.
According to Cohen, the success of her family-run business’s shoe sale, which is able to draw hundreds of people to line-up outside its doors before 8 a.m., comes down to one simple factor.
“Price, price, and price,” she told the Straight in an interview at the Vancouver outlet. “It’s all about the deal, and we have an amazing selection.”
In an industry that is cutthroat, with online competitors and ever-changing buying practices, Army & Navy’s boss emphasizes the importance of attracting younger patrons in order to maintain a stable clientele and prosperous business.
“Getting millennials through the doors is my focus, because if you get old in any business, eventually you’re going to go down,” said Cohen. “I feel that I will have succeeded when I see a real mix of generations. That’s the key.”
When asked where she sees her retail company in 10 years, she replied with a more than honest answer. “I don’t think about it. I’m in the moment. I’d like to think I’ll still be going strong, [but] there’s just no guarantees in life. It’s a very changing world, and nothing is really the same. The only constant in life is change,' said Cohen.
“I’m here today proudly celebrating 100 years and proudly honouring my grandfather and father. I feel like I’m on the summit, and now let’s just have some clear sailing."