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San Francisco’s Bulo on Staying Ahead of the Pack for 23 Years

Opening in 1994 as a trendy women’s Italian shoe store in an up-and-coming area of San Francisco, Bulo benefits from 23 years of staying on-trend.

Brands from across Europe bring business to Bulo, a boutique shoe store nestled amongst competitors in the bustling Hayes Valley shopping area of San Francisco. The store prefers hard-to-find designers utilizing high-quality materials in unexpected ways.

“I comb trade show directories and do lots of research during trade show season, but I also religiously follow my favorite shops on social media year-round,” said Charly Godwin, Bulo general manager. “124 Shoes in Melbourne has got to be one of the most beautiful shoe shops on the planet, and I’m also always inspired by Wait and See in Milan.”

Offering an assortment of silhouettes, from boots to sandals to oxfords, Bulo peppers its assortment of comfortable, high-quality footwear with the occasional avant-garde construct. Shoes sell from $79-$500, with $275 being the most popular price point.

With around 50 designers represented in the store, brands range from smaller European footwear brands to familiar favorites like Rollie and Kork-Ease to CYDWOQ sandals made in California—one of the store’s most popular items for the last 20 years.

Among the designers on the roster for men and women this season are Yuko Imanishi, Free People, Emma Go, Gidigio and Trippen.

According to Godwin, women’s flatforms, low-heeled ankle boots and subtly pointed flats reign over other styles this season, while soft leather lace-ups sell well for men.

Godwin expects flat and slip-on styles like mules, slides and loafers to be among the retailer’s best sellers for Spring ’17. Adding to Bulo’s list of designers, the store will introduce Ernesto Dolani, Shoto, Pomme D’Or, LeMargo, BCC Shoes and SixtySeven to its Spring ’17 repertoire.

“I’m investing more in the footwear brands that we’ve sold the most of online,” said Godwin. “If all goes well, Bulo’s e-commerce business is going to grow exponentially in 2017.”