What risks did Pener take by using a counterintuitive, gallery-like design in his RSole store? What was the payoff? For more than 30 years, Barry Pener has been managing Man of Fashion, a chain of 35 well-known stores that sell fashionable urban clothing and shoes founded by his grandfather in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2005, Pener noticed a new type of customer in his stores—sneakerheads, people (mostly men) who see sneakers as more than mere footwear and treat them as if they were works of art. Pener talked with his Nike sales representative, who confirmed the emerging trend. The sales representative told Pener about high-end sneaker stores in Los Angeles and New York City and suggested that he open a similar store in his Midwestern location. Pener flew to New York City to visit the stores, learn about their customers, and get ideas for opening his own high-end store in St. Louis.
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