"The Boot Capital of the World"

by Jed Blackwell
"The Boot Capital of the World"

Happy National Boot Day! Boots are so important to our business, we wanted to take a few minutes with our Vice President, Kevin Harrison, to give you an idea of what goes into being "The Boot Capital of the World".

How much of the business at Harrison’s is centered on boots, and what went into the decision to invest in extra stock in an effort to overcome some supply-chain issues?

“About 60 percent of our business is boots. It’s how the business kind of started in the first place, as a place to get work boots, and we really just hit on something. Even years ago there was really no central place to see a really good selection of boots. We kind of hit our niche there. And now, we’ve made a big commitment to having inventory on hand. You don’t have to travel very far to walk into stores that really don’t have any inventory at all. We made some pretty aggressive buying decisions, and it’s paid off for us. We’re committed to always having the biggest selection, and at the same time maintaining the guaranteed lowest prices. Between our regular stores, our mobile trucks, our account-based sales, our website, and Amazon sales, we want to offer our customers an unbeatable selection.”

The mobile boot trucks are an interesting part of the business. What’s the motivation behind offering businesses another way to buy?

“In the Upstate of South Carolina, we’re the only place I know of to offer two brick-and-mortar stores and mobile trucks that will come to your business. Some people love to come into a store, try on products, stay a while, and buy what they need. But a lot are too busy to do that. We pull up on site and people can come out, get on the truck, buy what they need, and we’ll bill the company. They love it, and it’s a huge benefit that we offer. And the differentiator with us is that even though we’re a large company now, we are and have always been willing to deal with any company. If you’ve got 10 people, we’ll bring the truck out just like we do with huge companies. We’re willing to do that to help our customers, and that’s just an extension of what we offer.”

The staff in the boot department at each location is extremely knowledgeable. How do you identify people who can best serve customers?

“First, you look for somebody who has the ability to interact with our guests. You want them to be friendly, to really care about people. When a guest walks in, you want them to be able to diagnose what they need. What do they do? Are they working with chemicals? Do they stand on a line? Are their boots wearing on a certain side? We want them to know why those things are important and the right questions to ask. Then we want to train them. We’ve been pretty intentional about training our people and helping them find out what people need. Our team is there to diagnose what’s going on and hopefully get people into products that they like an products that will help them.”

What’s behind the idea of “The Boot Capital of the World”? What does that mean to the company?

“Literally, if people think of a work boot, we want them to think of going to Harrison’s. If you’re going to a concert or want a Western boot? Need to run to Harrison’s. If it’s a hiking boot, or whatever it is, I want them to think they’ll be able to come to us. And when they walk in, I want them to be awed by the selection they see. I don’t want to be like a lot of places with two or three options. If they want to spend on high-dollar, exotic boots, we’ve got that. If they want an entry-level, basic pair of boots, we’ve got that. I want them to walk in, see our selection, and have the idea that if we don’t have it, they don’t need it. And we’re starting to see a lot of that. People know that if they want boots, they come to us. Some of the national chains around us are actually sending people to our stores because they know we have it. And sometimes that’s 10 times as much as the national chains. It’s huge.”

What’s the main thing you want customers to experience when buying boots?

“We just want to create the best possible environment for our guests. We don’t just want to sell you a pair of boots. We want to sell you the RIGHT pair of boots.”

by Jed Blackwell

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