Living the dream: Owners expanding Shoe Country Warehouse in Tupelo
May 8—TUPELO — In a few months, Shoe Country Warehouse will be fully living up to its name as it more than doubles its current retail space.
Store owners Brandon and Christy Davis have embarked on their plan to provide thousands more shoes and boots to its customers partly by design, partly by accident.
"We've got a runaway inventory problem, I guess you can say," Brandon Davis said. "We've got a warehouse across town that we've been going back and forth with. And in our current location we used to have 6-foot-wide aisles that are now 4-feet wide. We just need more space."
SCW will be moving a little farther down the sidewalk from where it is now in Tupelo Commons into the former Stash furniture store next to Ashley Furniture HomeStore.
The new location, which the Davises hope to open in August, spans 18,000 square feet, more than double the 7,500 feet Shoe Country Warehouse now fills.
But Brandon Davis has made sure he can fill their new home, having purchased inventory from six stores that liquidated since December 2020. The stores stretched across the southeast, and the Davises and their team traveled many miles with many truck loads to move that inventory to Tupelo.
In the new space, all of SCW's inventory will be in one location; no more traveling to the off-site warehouse to fill orders. SCW's online business and exploded, and more room is needed for shipping and freight. More office space is needed as well. The move to the new space will have SCW operating under one roof.
"As we've grown, we've increased our inventory in our categories, and we've had our sub-businesses like our website expand quickly so we've ended up having stuff just everywhere," Brandon Davis said. "We're doing work boots and western boots that we didn't have three years ago, and it's a growing part of the business, and we're giving the more space."
Davis said SCW will finally live up to its name as far as the warehouse part.
"You think of warehouse you think of big ceilings, lots of space, and we're going to give our customers a selection they've never had and go over the top with it," he said. "We really did overbuy for it."
SCW has long said it has more than 50 brands from which to chose, but that number has grown to more than 75. It should come as little surprise the business needs all that additional elbow room.
"But that's a good thing because you're living the dream of growing a business as big as you hoped it would be," Davis said.
Indeed, even during the pandemic, Shoe Country Warehouse was able to not only maintain business but grow it. Sales grew 30% last year; so far this year, they're up 40%
Davis said the key to the store's strong showing is having the right people in the right place, playing to their strengths. Each section of the store has their own operations manager of sorts.
Davis said he's learned to get out of the way and let his people do what they do best.
Christy Davis handles much of the back office operations, but she also helps with social media, posting the weekly "Brand of the Week" on Facebook, for example. She also buys the women's clothing for the store.
"That's another reason why we need to expand is because she's done a great job with that with women's clothing," Brandon Davis said.
Brandon Davis was in charge of that before his wife took over, and it's a good thing she did.
"She said what I bought looked like tablecloths," he said.
Christy Davis said the Facebook posts generate plenty of feedback and often lead to customer purchases.
"We have a lot of people walk in and say they saw this brand on Facebook Live, and want to try it on because it's new to them," she said. "I think we have to reach a certain population that we won't reach through other media outlets, but more importantly it to help get out the word of what we do have. There's population that doesn't know why we have, or how we've grown our selection. So it about brand awareness, and that they see we have a store for the whole family with departments they can shop."
Shoe Country Warehouse is about all Brandon Davis has known during his working career. He started working at what was then Shoe Country when he was 15 because it was a job he enjoyed.
Shoe Country was started by Tony Dickerson in Nettleton in 1974. He moved Shoe Country to the West Main Shopping Center in Tupelo in 1979.
Following his death in March 2017, there were three remaining partners in the store, including Davis, who worked with Dickerson. After some negotiations and an amicable parting of ways, Davis emerged as the sole owner of the business.
Shoe Country closed in December 2017, and Shoe Country Warehouse, which had a smaller space in Tupelo Commons near Bargain Hunt, moved into its current location in the development in 2018.
Since then, Brandon and Christy Davis have navigated the business through some turbulent times, including the pandemic, supply chain hiccups and now rising inflation.
But they never wavered from their vision — and their dream.
"Customers have really responded with our increased inventory, and we feel like we have a lot of momentum right now," Brandon said. "We're excited, and we feel like it's our responsibility to give our customers the kind of store they rightfully deserve so they don't have to go to Birmingham, Nashville or some other big town, and we can hopefully compete to be one of the best in the state."