Georgie Faye’s Designer Shoe Rack only pays one employee: co-owner and president Brant Batson, a strong and friendly man with a trimmed beard. On weekday mornings, Batson drops his daughter off at Mill Creek Elementary and drives to the Broadway Shops to get the store ready for open. He stays until the store closes.
Georgie Faye’s opened on August 3, in the space below Game Stop in the two-level shopping center. When asked how much preparation went into the store’s launch, Batson laughed and said: “A lot more than I thought. You have to do a lot of research; you have to make adjustments as you go. But it’s nice to know that all the hurdles that we faced, others have faced too.”
Batson’s co-owner, Georgie Fanning, works her day job at Shelter Insurance as a business analyst. For the two of them, opening a startup has been a lesson in making adjustments. They received broken boxes of designer shoes. It took four tries to obtain a sales tax license through the Department of Revenue. Their original shipment of handbags wasn’t what Batson ordered; they’re still waiting on the second shipment.
“We’re rolling with the punches and seeing how things play out right now,” Batson said. “It’s a day to day thing.”
Even with the hurdles, Batson characterized their first month as a success: Fanning curates an active social media presence for the store, and word-of-mouth has brought in more customers than expected.
The idea for a discount shoe boutique in Columbia came to Fanning last year, when she was trying to find shoes for Batson’s sister’s wedding. Fanning and Batson want to tap into Columbia’s transplant population: residents coming from bigger cities who are used to having brick-and-mortar options for designer brands.
The store offers all their shoes at 40 percent to 70 percent off retail price (“That was one of Georgie’s big pushes”) by capitalizing on overstocks and negotiating with bigger retailers. Batson says several e-commerce sites offer the same price, but Georgie Faye’s brings convenience: no waiting, no size guessing and no shipment errors. Eventually, once the company has more than one paid employee, they’ll expand online as well; for now their budget has to be focused.
Currently, 10 percent of Georgie Faye’s shoes are high-end designers. These included Prada, Michael Kors, etc., and they’re kept in locked glass display cases along the wall behind the counter. The rest of the shoe stock has a more open appeal. Most sit on shelves hung by ropes, and they’re organized in a way that feels social: strapped three-inch heels, for example, are next to flower-print tennis shoes. The men’s selection, not initially a focus for Batson and Fanning, has sold surprisingly well.
“We want to maximize what we have, and we think we have something for everyone.” Batson said, “We want to change the mindset that if people want designer shoes, they have to go online or to Kansas City and St. Louis.”
Now, you can find them right here in Columbia.
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