If you follow Footshop, by now you’ll know that you can encounter it on your trips to the capitals of Slovakia or Hungary. A new place where you can run into Footshop is in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania – last year, Footshop successfully expanded to the local market. Why? Because the Romanians love Footshop’s sneakers. Find out firsthand what opening the store was like from main actors.
from left: Lenka Zbořilová, expansion manager; Michal Bým – exVisual Merchendiser; Danka Brotea – Bucharest Store Manager; Pavel Juřenčák – Retail Manager
Why was Bucharest the best location for a new store?
Pavel: Footshop has a strong position of the Romanian market and having a local store will enable us to get even closer to our customers.
Lenka: Romania is different then other European countries. And Bucharest is temperamental and evolving. Even though you won’t find a street like Na Příkopě in Prague because the locals are used to shopping at malls, we managed to find the best location possible.
Danka: Bucharest really needs something like Footshop, because the city is becoming more and more interesting as far as places to visit are concerned. Also, the locals have a strong fashion sense and like brands that aren’t that easily accessible.
When was the idea born?
Lenka: It was very straightforward. We followed up on our online trends. It’s no secret that Bucharest is our number 1 as far as online sales go, and we see a big potential in the city.
Pavel: It was in 2018.
This is Footshop’s fifth store. After all the previous experience, was opening this one easy?
Michal: Of course not.
Pavel: Opening the first store in a new country is always complicated, partly because of differing regulations.
Lenka: It’s never easy, and something always goes wrong with every opening.
What’s necessary to open a new store?
Danka: Teamwork, resilience, investigation skills level 1000, courage, being proactive, assertive and most importantly, balls.
Michal: Imagination, being able to improvise, a vision, teamwork.
Lenka: Courage, faith, blonde hair, a poker face, and a tape measurer.
Pavel: You need to have a plan, and focus on the details in order to have a happy end. You can’t do this without an idea and an adequate location, and an experienced manager of expansion, but luckily, we have Lenka.
As far as finding a location is concerned, I heard it’s quite a challenge. Could you describe the process in detail?
Pavel: It wasn’t easy, but in the end we found a place we can be proud of. Two floors full of sneakers and also a gallery represent Footshop the way we want it to.
Danka: It was an intense investigation. We looked at commercial spaces, but also at unconventional ones, so we could be sure Footshop is in the best place possible. We looked at clubs, galleries, institutions, factories and more. I even communicated with a sexy nightclub.
Michal: In the end, we found a place that suits Footshop well. Unexpectedly, in a place that ice cream used to be made in.
Danka, you’re the store manager in Romania, where you’re from, but your first job at Footshop was being the manager of Prague’s Na Příkopě store. What are some of the biggest differences between these two stores?
I think it’s too early to have a complex opinion on this. The Prague store is in a busy shopping zone, the Bucharest one is in a regular street. In Prague, the brand’s well established, but the Bucharest still has a lot of experience to gain. Everything revolves around Prague’s Karlín offices, the stores and the warehouse, while Bucharest is 1 300 kilometers away. I also think that as a store manager outside of Prague, you have different responsibilities. I meet new potential employees, who you have to gauge out correctly. I also meet with suppliers or collaboration candidates. I cover for several departments during my workday. I think Taras from the Bratislava and Marc from the Budapest stores are in a similar situation.
You spent a lot of time together. What was it like?
Lenka: We have a ton of stories. Not necessarily funny, but really crazy. Every day, we fought against time, language barriers and bureaucracy. Imagine taking over a property and starting to reconstruct it the very next day, but the previous owners didn’t pay the electricity bills for several months, so they cut you off. In the end we had to literally persuade the electricity suppliers to turn it on for at least five days.
Michal: Every day was funny in it’s own right, because we were all completely exhausted.
Danka: I have to agree. All the stress forced us to generate inside jokes and make fun of ourselves, otherwise we would have a mental breakdown. Some days we only had time for fast food, sometimes we spent the whole night on Slack, Lenka had to wear the same shoes and the workers had to re-do the flooring twice. If we wouldn’t have found reasons to laugh, it would have been tragic.
Pavel: I loved our accommodation. After going through the main doors, there was a bench with our security guard, who was always asleep.
I imagine a project like this never happens without some fuck-ups, as previously mentioned What issues did you have to face.
Lenka: Someone reported us to the police, because during the reconstruction, there was a big mess outside the store – glass, bricks etc. When Danka went to the police station, they told her that she has to pay a 5 000 Euro fine.
Danka: Luckily, I was sort of a middleman between the Czech Republic and Romania.
Pavel: I broke a 3D mirror that was supposed to be one of the key elements of the store, but what the hell. Shit happens.
Michal: Most of the time, it was just last minute things, situations where we had to improvise. But we always pulled through in the end.
In one photo, Pavel’s sitting on a toilet with a drill in his hand. Did you have to do a lot of the work yourselves?
A week before the opening, the whole retail team visited Bucharest to help out. Shifts from 8AM till 9PM every day, full of drilling, redecorating, painting walls, tidying up etc.
And a ton of paperwork.
I like manual labor, so drilling stuff was fun. And yes, we did a lot of the work ourselves. I’m proud of the whole team.
Michal, you’re known for your sense for details. What detail of the store do you like the most?
Michal: Cheers! I’m happy everything worked out as it should have. Even though i had to work long-distance and with my imagination a lot, I’m happy the store is working, and that it contains elements that are mirrored in the Czech Republic, where Footshop’s from. I love the Lasvit chandelier and the Vertex chairs.
Let’s talk about the opening. What was the event like?
Lenka: The opening was great. It was like Footshop returned to its roots. Everyone was great. A lot of locally famous people arrived, and it was all genuine. For me personally, it was one of the best moments of Footshop and it’s stores.
Michal: Seeing the expression on people’s faces was great – you could see that we introduced a fresh concept to the city.
Danka: It was an evening with a real Romanian vibe and I’m happy that the people from Footshop felt the same way. I was also at the opening of the Na Příkopě store, which I also enjoyed, but because I didn’t know that many people from the Czech Republic, I felt more connected to the one in Bucharest.
What was the biggest achievement of the evening?
Michal: A house full of people genuinely interested in the whole concept and integrating with it.Danka: Seeing everyone having fun, enjoying the space, music and the performance from Shatra Benz. I have to admit, the speech was very emotional for me and I was very nervous. But it was all worth it!