Cathie Anderson: Bearpaw uses local feet to see if the shoes fit

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 - 8:05 am

The maker of Bearpaw footwear, based right over in Citrus Heights, is finding The Summit store that it opened on Sylvan Road last December to be the ideal place to test out new lines of shoes.

Bearpaw was born in 2001 after Granite Bay's Tom Romeo agreed to help a friend with a strange request: finding a place to sell 50,000 pairs of sheepskin boots made in China. By 2011, Bearpaw's parent company, Romeo & Juliette, was grossing $90 million a year, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

"That was 2011, and our goal is for more this year," said Randy McKinley, the company's vice president of global marketing. One reason for the growth is a new shoe line tested last spring at The Summit.

"Historically we've been a Q3 and Q4 brand, really from August through January, you know, cold weather months, simply because of the nature of the product," McKinley said. "… What we did is go in and test some spring products in our store, some flip-flops, some moccasins, and things like that. We had a great response to it."

Bearpaw will roll out an entire spring collection next year.

What's new at Bearpaw today? Well, the company just released its third boot in the collection designed by Karina Smirnoff of "Dancing With The Stars." Called Vesna, it retails for $79.99. Bearpaws' boots start at $59.99, and different styles can be found at Macy's, Big 5, amazon.com, shop.bearpawshoes.com and other retail outlets.

A Sactown kind of high

Here, in the penthouse of the Elks Tower, the exposed brick, ductwork and concrete floors can fool you into thinking that you're much closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Pacific.

Yet, down below is ground-floor denizen McCormick & Schmick's at the intersection of 11th and J streets, and through the tall windows on the top floor are skyline views of this City of Trees.

Michael Gelber, managing partner at Rail Bridge Cellars, chills out in a club chair and talks about plans to further expand use of a space that has been home to his winery's tasting room for just two months. Open by appointment only from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays, the room has averaged sales of about five cases of wine in each five-hour period.

Now, starting this weekend, Gelber will launch an acoustic blues-jazz series that will run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays for eight weeks. Guitarist and vocalist Clemon Charles will be the inaugural act, and Alex Nelson and Steve Homan will be among the acts to follow. A $20 ticket will buy a beverage, appetizers and dessert. (Learn more at railbridgecellars.net.)

"It's something to hit the ears, hit the palate and hit the soul," the 51-year-old Gelber said. "The best form of advertising is with the product, with the service and with the experience. … Getting somebody someplace, getting the wine in their mouth, getting the music in their ears and getting the view in their eyes and in their soul, that's going to get them to come back."

Gelber marries work done by two of his business units, Railbridge Cellars and Alexis Catering, in the lofty environs of the Elks Tower. He also books the space for private parties, and has found that customers attending an event often call to book one of their own.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Cathie Anderson





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