During 60 Days of Better, not only are we trying to put Newtons on the feet of those who've not tried us yet, but we want to get you into our amazing network of retailers. One of Newtons biggest advocates and strongest retailers is DEKA. I had a chance to chat with owner and founder of DEKA, Jim Whitlow and it's easy to see why DEKA is so successful and has now been able to expand its influence to a second location in Chicago. Jim's passion is larger than anything that could ever fit on a page so be sure to visit DEKA if you're near them in Atlanta or Chicago!
How did DEKA get its start?
Jim spent many years in fashion retail and saw an opportunity for something different and better. Noticing that women were spending a lot of time in workout clothing even when they were not going to or from a workout but just for everyday clothing, the idea began to take shape. The goal was to start a store that offered a different environment than women shopping for workout clothes were used to. Pushing aside the potential overwhelming and intimidating feel that a traditional running specialty shop can have, Jim wanted to create a more upscale and inviting experience. Not just leaving that feel to the merchandise, DEKA went all in with decor and ambience and created a one of a kind look and feel.
DEKA began as DEKA Athletics but soon dropped the word "Athletics" from its name. The motivation for this was that they were striving to be a store that appeals to everyone, including those who may be scared off by walking into an "athletics" shop. That type of outside the box thinking and challenging the accepted thought process of what makes a fashion store and what makes an athletics store has garnered DEKA an incredibly diverse and loyal customer base.
How does Newton fit into the DEKA mentality?
A large part of Jim's goal at DEKA is to give shoppers a place where they can come and see merchandise that is always on the cutting edge. Each piece in the store(s) has been extremely carefully selected for its quality, design, feel and functionality so that if someone wants to see the best of the best and not have to deal with sorting through things they won't want, they can trust that has already been done for them. DEKA's customers want to be shown the best and that's what DEKA does.
Where does Newton fall into that? DEKA sells Newtons because they fit the bill of being über-fashionable and a premium product. If a shopper wants a fashionable shoe, here's a pair of Newtons. If a shopper wants the most progressive shoe technology, well, here's a pair of Newtons! If you walk into DEKA and ask "Why Newtons?". Well, in Jim's words:
"We only sell the best products and quite simply, Newtons are the best running shoes you can buy."
Probably one of DEKA's most amazing qualities is its deep knowledge and understanding of its customers. They know who wants to see what when they walk through the door. Each person on the sales floor has an in-depth understanding of the products so they can cater to a shopper's taste without having to waste time separating the wheat from the chaff. During our conversation I was constantly amazed with Jim's innate ability to pinpoint what limits he could push with which customers. That knowledge and understanding is a cornerstone of DEKA's success which cannot be overstated.
What's next for DEKA?
Having just opened their second location in Chicago, Jim and DEKA are not a company that is looking to spread itself too thin. Rather, the dedicated staff of DEKA Chicago is working to learn and understand a new community in its new digs. Looking forward, once the Chicago store is well in hand and crushing it then, Jim has an eye on other "active" communities around the country that fit the bill. A few cities on his radar are Los Angeles, Dallas and New York.
Speaking to Jim, you would think you were speaking to the most gun-ho-for-Newton person around...and that's because you are! The enthusiasm and genuine care for Newton and what we're doing is what makes DEKA such an effective retailer. After our conversation, Jim shot me a note:
"Enjoyed our talk! Thanks for all of your support with DEKA!!!"
I wrote back, "Our support of you guys is striving to be as supportive as you are of us. It's really awesome (from my perspective) to see a shop/owner/staff who is so incredibly behind a brand and believes in it so strongly that they go all in!"
If you're in the Atlanta or Chicago area, please swing by and say hi!