Locally owned Shoe Station’s newly expanded 23,130-square-foot site in the Eastern Shore Centre in Spanish Fort has exceeded sales goals and rapidly helped fulfill the regional chain’s Baldwin County growth strategy, according to a news release.

“The new store was originally projecting as having a 10 percent bump in sales. Now it is probably the largest store in the company based on most recent volume numbers,” Executive Vice President G. Brent Barkin said.

“From day one, the Eastern Shore Plaza store across the street from the Eastern Shore Centre was the most productive store per square foot. The only complaint people had was that the floor plan was too tight. Because nearly everything we had there sold, we couldn’t simply cut back on certain products and so decided to nearly double the space by opening a new Eastern Shore location,” Barkin said. “The floor plan is around 12,000 square feet at the old spot at the plaza.”

Fifteen more employees have been hired at the new location, nearly doubling staff size. Work hours have also increased over 30 percent and now represent the largest slice of the payroll pie within the company.
According to Barkin, Shoe Station’s surprising success at the Eastern Shore Centre has led to the pursuit of more aggressive growth plans along the central Gulf Coast. The open-shelf shoe chain has set its sites on additional openings along the Florida Panhandle for 2016. Plans are on the drawing board to open the next store in Destin this spring.

“The Eastern Shore Centre is the first space in Shoe Station’s history to include a mall entrance. Before this move, all of our locations have historically been stand-alone buildings. Additionally, even though all Shoe Station locations sell children’s shoes, the Eastern Shore store is the first to include a designated children’s shoe boutique,” Barkin said.

Other marketing efforts recently rolled out by Barkin for 2016 to enhance Shoe Station’s visibility are the launch of an updated website and a smartphone app to increase sales as well as expand its digital reach to value-oriented consumers nationwide.

Established in 1984 in Mobile, Shoe Station currently has a footprint in five Southeastern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The company employs more than 500 regionally and in 2012 garnered a Retailer of the Year Award from the Alabama Retail Association in the “Annual Sales More Than $20 Million” category.

Commercial real estate moves
Local entrepreneurs recently purchased a 2,500-square-foot building located at 407 Pinehill Drive in Midtown with plans to open a new dog-grooming salon. The property sits on.18 acres of land. Pete Riehm of NAI Mobile represented the buyers in the transaction; Joey Betbeeze of Betbeeze Realty worked for the sellers.

A new 6,700-square-foot retail center in front of Academy Sports on Airport Boulevard is currently under construction. It was acquired by Cox Properties last summer for $770,000.

The development will include a new 1,800-square-foot Tropical Smoothie Café that is relocating from Schillinger Road in West Mobile. It will also be the first site for a 2,400-square-foot Pie Five Pizza franchise in the South Alabama region, as reported in last week’s Lagniappe by our cuisine editor.

Both restaurant concepts will have outdoor seating and an expected completion date of April, according to the contractor, Coumanis Allen.
Pie Five was represented by Angie McArthur with Stirling Properties. John Vallas with Vallas Realty worked for the developer on the project and also handled the Tropical Smoothie lease. According to Vallas, two additional spaces are currently under negotiation for tenants. 

According to Andrew Chason, senior associate with Marcus & Millichap’s Fairhope office, some $1.95 million was paid by speculators to acquire a 10,640-square-foot Dollar General Discount retailer located at 902 Morphy Ave. in Fairhope.

FCS, formerly known as Fremin’s Contractor Services LLC, recently acquired a 3,898-square-foot building located at 1550 N. Schillinger Road for $139,000. Plans include moving FCS’s corporate office to the new locale by the end of the year while still retaining its current shop at 1401 N. Schillinger Road in Semmes. David Campbell with IXL Real Estate represented the buyer; Sharon Wright with White-Spunner Realty worked for the seller.

Per David Dexter with NAI Mobile, 4,100 square feet of space located at 200 Dauphin St., near the corner of Conception Street and the southwest quadrant of Bienville Square, was recently leased by Savannah, Georgia-based restaurant Wet Willie’s. The daiquiri bar and eatery will inhabit space formerly occupied by a bank. This will be Wet Willie’s 15th location and the first of its kind in Alabama.

Pam Denham & Associates among top-ranked PR firms
Fairhope-based Pamela Denham & Associates was recently selected for inclusion in two categories in Business Alabama’s “Top Rank Alabama 2016” awards for advertising agencies and public relations firms.
PDA was the 17th ranked public relations firm in the state and ranked 18th in the advertising agency category. This is the 12th year the firm has been recognized by the Birmingham-based publication.  

Criteria considered in the rankings includes number of employees and active clients in the state. PDA works with 11 clients and has 11 employees. This is the first year the company has been recognized for both the advertising and public relations awards.

Denham plans to further expand her specialized services to include internal staff and management development in the areas of client experience and customer service. Her company currently includes experienced writers, graphic designers, social media specialists, web specialists and event coordinators.

Denham formed PDA in 1998. She has a background in health care management and caters to a broad array of industries including health, fashion, real estate, construction and hospitality. Services include marketing, strategic planning, public relations, social media and event planning.