Lebo’s expanded even more in the 1960s with the addition of a western wear department catering to equestrians and farmers. Products carried include boots, saddles, bridles, vet supplies and riding attire for both the western and English rider.
“We realized we needed more volume to support growth,” Levin says. “Today we have eight units and we have recently celebrated the grand opening of our ninth store in Spartanburg N.C. Our locations are in South Carolina and North Carolina, and we have looked for more opportunities as our volume has increased.”
Finding its Niche
Lebo’s has positioned itself as a niche retailer and not just a shoe store. It continues to sell a wide array of shoes, while also keeping up its long-standing tradition of providing hard-to-find sizes.
“That is a niche in and of itself, as people come to us from great distance because they know they can get the sizes and merchandise they need,” Levin says. “There are many families that have shopped with us for years.”
To find and keep its customers, Lebo’s engages in a number of initiatives such as loyalty programs and promotions via TV, radio, print advertising and billboards. This helps the company keep its name in front of the general public. “We earn our customers, and word of mouth is huge for us,” Levin says. “Lebo’s has developed a strong reputation for our work to take care of our customers.”
The Path Forward
Among the many critical investments that have been focal areas for the company in recent years is its investment in its online presence. Although Levin believes the website is still around six months to a year away from where the company would like it to be, it does provide an e-commerce option for customers looking to make purchases online.
“One of our goals has been to improve our technology platform,” Levin says. “We are trying to be as modern as possible and finding ways to save money where we can by using technological advances that can help us. The idea for us is to operate in ways that will keep expenses down as much as possible.”
The brick-and-mortar world is also receiving attention from Lebo’s. The opening of the new store will expand the company’s physical footprint, and Lebo’s has further added to its in-store experience by adding certified pedorthists to its staff. Customers in need of help with finding the perfect fitted pair of shoes can make an appointment for a free consultation with a Lebo’s certified pedorthists.
“Comfort shoes and orthotics is a growing area,” Levin says. “We have our own training school to train our people on how to fit orthotics, and we have machines in stores for customers to stand on to help them with their foot comfort. This is a key niche area for us.”
As the company works to stay on top of current trends and remain in tune with customers, it will continue to work on making sure it always carries what the public is looking for. Levin says Lebo’s is able to bring in what the customer wants because it listens to them to find out what they want. “We have always done that,” he says. “If customers want something that we don’t carry but should, then we will bring it in.”
The disruptive force that is the e-commerce world will continue to be a challenge that Lebo’s will strive to tackle. The information available online means today’s shoppers are more educated about product specifications and prices. But the company also believes that people still desire a high level of customer service. The Lebo’s approach is to take care of customers by providing personalized service that can make a difference.
“We must be able to take care of the customers so they understand that we perform a service for them that they can’t get anywhere else,” Levin says. “The Internet is our biggest competitor, and we are trying to figure out ways we can compete through exceptional customer service. We’ve also formed great ties to vendors, as we all succeed when we support one another. They appreciate the way we do business and the outlet we provide for them, which is why they are willing to support us.”