Happy New year!
As we move into 2019, I’d like to once again thank all of our customers, both local and long distance, for continuing to support our small ‘Rider Boot Co’ brand here in Richmond VA! The continual compliments from visitors to the shop, the interest in the nature of what we do from visitors as well as the local press, the wonderful reactions (and patience) to our on-line GMTO’s and the quickly growing interest in our ‘in-house’ made leather goods has been a true blessing for our Family. Thank You!
Now in our third year ‘on the street’, so to speak, there has been something that has slowly started to occupy more and more of my attention. Namely, the growing availability in the market of ‘direct to consumer’ boot and shoe brands along with their attached marketing campaigns claiming to ‘eliminate’ the middle-person. While they actually are simply retailers wearing a different hat, I have still admired their ability to alter the traditional business model. I also, as one who has spent much of the last decade organizing ‘private label’ ranges and production for other brands, know the math. Whether it is a famous Fashion House who invests more in marketing than the final product, or a newer ‘direct’ selling brand who goes straight to internet distribution and paid influencers as the marketing plan, the product cost is more or less stagnant, the consumer price reflects the costs in between the factory and the customer, plus the margin percentage needed by the brand itself. The one thing the fashion brands and the direct brands have in common, with few – if any – exceptions, is that none of them own a factory.
And neither do I.
But, the Corti Family does, and has produced for both sides of this same coin over the years. The Corti’s have also produced our range since the beginning – that would be the ‘Cortina’ stamped on every boot and shoe that we have done. We have never pretended to be a manufacturer, never pretended to offer anything ‘better’ than any other brand, never oversold a philosophy. We have simply worked with Giancarlo and Aldo to put a good product on the market at the best price we could.
We opened our shop here in Richmond, and eliminated wholesale to get the price of our boots down a good amount and feel the value we offer currently is commensurate with the quality. The only way to further reduce the prices would be to possibly start our own manufacturing here at home, which is something I’ve considered regularly over the years. However, to take that step I also knew it would take a very long time, and huge investment to develop new lasts and patterns, and we wouldn’t be able to match the fit and finish of Cortina until I was much closer to the end than the beginning. As my thought process has played out over the last year, Giancarlo has continually gotten closer to the same interest – to grow his family business by organizing his Cortina production (Classic/Traditional patterns, lasts and materials) to be available directly to the final customer. As a matter of fact, as the months have gone by recently, our Rider Boot brand and shop (and his loyalty to us) has somewhat stood in the way of his development.
All of this was mostly in the background until last week…..after hearing about the expansion, and my focus for the coming year, of our own leather goods business here in the shop, the conversation quickly went from Giancarlo saying ‘I have a project I need to discuss with you’ to ‘Rider Boot Co. is now a division of Cortina 1955’. I am very excited to now be the Managing Director of Direct to Consumer sales for Cortina 1955! In addition, the expansion and development of the leather goods business here in the Richmond shop is well under way, and we look forward to developing, producing and offering our own range throughout the coming months.
There are numerous changes in the Cortina x Rider Boot Co. business launching early February, and the most obvious will be that the retail pricing, as indicated by the factory, will be substantially lower. The exact same boots and shoes, those same ones we have delivered to customers for almost 15 years now, will be offered in the range of $225-240 for shoes and $245-295 for boots. By becoming part of the factory, we will be able to offer the entire catalogue of Traditional/Classic shoes and boots. The same shoes and boots that Cortina has supplied to the marketplace for many years now; styles where the fittings, patterns, finishes….all of the development investments…have long been paid for, as well as the Rider Boot Co. styles we have built our business on.
Our principle method of selling will be via our website with fitting advise, with a lower quantity of stock available in our Richmond location. We are now working on the drop schedule, and anticipate 2 product additions each month with weekly deliveries either directly to you or to the shop for personal fitting. This new method of work, for us, will allow a much more consistent delivery timeframe, the ability to focus on existing styles in more leather options making the factory more efficient, eliminate some of the material availability issues we sometimes run into on our GMTO’s and, most attractively, offer at a fantastic end price.
We have much to do over the remaining days of January to prepare for this transition, and if you visit the shop please pardon our mess as we take delivery of new machinery and materials for the leather goods side of our shop. We will also be marking down all current stock as the factory would like as little on the books as possible when we officially combine. Finally, please note that we are pulling customer regular price purchase files (Cortina/Rider Boot items) for the last year and will be sending a long dated discount code that can be used for purchases in the future, that will make up the different cost amounts on our basic boots as closely as possible.
Thank you once again for allowing us to show you around our shop, talk to you about our products, even pour you a drink or two, and we can’t wait to show off what we have in store for the coming year!