Allen Edmonds to open store in The Pfister

Expected to open in time for U.S. Open

Grangaard

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:58 pm

Port Washington-based Allen Edmonds Corp. plans to open a retail store in The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee this spring.

Grangaard
Paul Grangaard

The men’s shoe manufacturer and retailer’s newest storefront, situated on the corner of East Wisconsin Avenue and North Jefferson Street, will face the busiest thoroughfare in downtown Milwaukee. It is expected to open in early June at the latest, said Paul Grangaard, president and chief executive officer of Allen Edmonds.

“We’re going to try to do it on an accelerated timeline so that it will be ready for all the traffic Milwaukee will be receiving this summer for the U.S. Open,” Grangaard said. “I understand the hotel rooms are already very booked in downtown Milwaukee for that week.”

The 117th U.S. Open will be held from June 12 to 18 at Erin Hills in rural Washington County. As many as 35,000 people per day will visit the course—and many will stay at hotels across southeastern Wisconsin. The U.S. Open usually has a $120 million to $135 million economic impact on the area in which it is held, according to the United States Golf Association.

Allen Edmonds will offer head-to-toe menswear at the downtown Milwaukee store, including johnnie-O golf shirts, Grangaard said. It also will have a shoe shine stand. Allen Edmonds hopes it attracts business people and professional athletes staying at the hotel, as well as tourists and residents.

The Pfister retail space is more than 2,000 square feet, larger than the company’s usual stores, so it will be used as a “laboratory store,” Grangaard said. In addition to socks, belts and leather goods, the store will try offering different fits and styles of jeans and new shoe styles.

“We won’t have a single Bunsen burner in there, but as we grow into a lifestyle brand we like to stretch ourselves,” Grangaard said. “Probably (we will be) doing some shoe styles that we just want to see how the public reacts to them and if they fit our customer base as the customer base continues to expand.”

Allen Edmonds now has 69 stores, with plans to open another 10 this year—largely focused on vibrant downtown areas. It makes sense to include Milwaukee in that mix because of recent development projects, Grangaard said.

“The space has been empty for over three years now and Milwaukee has gone through and is continuing to go through a major renaissance,” he said. “A lot of building has been done between The Pfister and the lake, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has announced their new symphony center. With the new basketball arena going in, there’s a lot more activity going on in Milwaukee now, from a residential point of view, from a business energy point of view and also from a tourist’s point of view, so we expect there to be a good amount of traffic and we hope to stimulate it by being downtown.”

The storefront, which for 37 years ending in 2014 was occupied by upscale menswear retailer Roger Stevens, will be “freshened up” inside and out, with new window lighting to call attention to the products.

Allen Edmonds was acquired from Los Angeles-based private equity firm Brentwood Associates by Clayton, Missouri-based Famous Footwear parent company Caleres Inc. for $255 million in December. Grangaard said the integration is going well.

“We’re a unique animal for them and that means we’ve got freedom to run,” he said. “You can’t stay owned by private equity companies forever—they always have to sell. Now we’ve found a permanent home and that’s what we wanted all along.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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