While the recession was brutal to so many people here in Las Vegas, some entrepreneurs have found ways to "make Las Vegas work." One Henderson mom took her search for better shoes for her daughter and turned it into a major money maker, now spreading worldwide.
In southeast Czech Republic, the city of Brno is a short drive from Slovakia and Austria. Flying there from Las Vegas takes a day or more.
But if you happen to be passing through and need a new pair of children’s shoes, you'll find a familiar store.
Pediped, a Henderson shoemaker founded by husband-and-wife team Brian and Angela Edgeworth, has partnered with a Czech retailer to open two stores in Brno and another in Prague. The stores debuted last year.
The expansion is part of Pediped’s international growth.
The Edgeworths, who sell about 1 million pairs of shoes a year, expanded their retail presence into Asia and Europe after the recession sparked waves of shoe-store closings in the United States. They sell shoes in 1,300 stores nationally, down from 4,000 before the economy collapsed, Brian Edgeworth said.
He, Angela and their business partner Rudy Glocker have opened 20 stores in China, all in the past two years. Three stores are U.S.-style, stand-alone outlets while the rest are kiosks within larger department stores.
They also opened a store at Town Square last year.
The trio focused heavily on China because of its booming middle class and consumer culture that includes spending heavily on kids due to the country’s one-child policy.
It’s also easier to open a retail outlet in China than in the United States, and stores can become profitable fairly quickly.
“It’s not instantaneous buckets of money raining, but it’s solid,” Brian Edgeworth said.
Overall, domestic shoe sales have rebounded since the recession. In 2012, U.S. consumers bought 2.3 million pairs of shoes, down slightly from 2011 but up 10.5 percent from 2008 and 2009, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
Global shoe sales are expected to grow from $185 billion in 2011 to about $212 billion in 2018, according to Transparency Market Research. The Asia Pacific region is expected to lead the pack with 30 percent of global sales revenue in 2018.
The Edgeworths, Canadian natives, founded Pediped in 2004 in Southern California. They moved to the valley in 2006 because of cheaper, more convenient warehouse space and a less stressful lifestyle.
Their business slowed down during the recession, but the Edgeworths fought the downturn, expanding their product line in addition to opening more stores. They now sell shoes in about 40 countries and plan to open 20 Pediped stores in the next three to five years.
Part of that growth will be in the Czech Republic.
Czech firm the Nohel Group broached the idea of opening Pedipeds in its country. A Nohel partner, whose wife worked in retail and whose kids wore Pediped shoes, said the brand had strong potential despite being fairly unknown, Glocker said.
Pediped sells shoes at a discount to Nohel but doesn't charge licensing or franchising fees or collect a percentage of sales. The Nohel Group owns the stores and plans to open three or four more.
Glocker, who went to business school with Brian Edgeworth and worked with him at Goldman Sachs, invested in Pediped in 2008. At the time, the Edgeworths sold shoes to customers around the world through the Internet and in others’ retail stores.
“There was an international business, but not nearly like what we have now,” Glocker said.