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GLOUCESTER Back in 2010 when his Main Street mainstay Mark Adrian Shoes turned 35, Mark Adrian Farber said that “customer service and satisfaction is in my DNA.”

In that case, now that he’s retiring, the self described perfectionist has certainly chosen the right fellow to pick up where he leaves off.

Like his father, Adam Farber has shoes in his genes. Descended from four generations that have successfully owned and managed multiple shoe shops in Greater Boston, this fifth generation son seems naturally born to the biz. Yet the 35 year old former Sony Music executive said he never really considered himself a shoe in to take it over.

“I lived in New York for 16 years,” he said. “I was working in product development for major artists like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. I loved it, I had no thoughts of leaving.”

But marriage and a family changed that, recalled the father of two. “There’s such beauty and family and community here in Gloucester,” he said. Then, too, there are all those shoes millions of them sold through the decades that were, no getting around it, in his genes.

“From day one, the store was in my life,” he said. So, leaving New York in November 2014, he returned to that life and, after learning the business from his father, stepped into his shoes officially on the last day of January. Then, in homage to the generations that came before, father and son visited the graves of those family members in separate family plots at cemeteries in West Roxbury and Woburn.

“It was a very moving day, it conjured a lot of memories,” said Mark Farber, recalling how, 40 years earlier, his own father had worked with him, coming out of retirement and up to Gloucester to help get the new shoe shop off on a good foot.

“He worked with me for two and a half years,” said an emotional Mark Farber, who, with his wife, Amy, spent the rest of those 40 years building a stellar line up of premium priced performance brands that, to an ever expanding customer base of outdoor loving Cape Anners, made the name Mark Adrian a premium brand in and of itself.

For Adam Farber whose hands on product development for Sony left him with an eye for packaging marrying that brand with the introduction of a smart, new signature shopping bag (in retail, the equal of outdoor advertising) is the only change he’s made since returning to Gloucester.

One reason for that, he said,
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is that the Birkenstocks, Dansko clogs, Merrell sandals, Ugg boots and other comfort classics that typically fill Mark Adrian’s showcase windows have themselves changed their packaging, increasingly reflecting a new found fusion with fashion that began when runway designers, led by major American trendmeister Michael Kors, retooled Birkenstocks for a younger, more eclectic market of globe trotting millennials.

In a classic case of the ugly duckling becoming a swan, Birkenstocks became beautiful. And chic. In all kinds of colors, textures and takes on the comfort classic, including luxe metallics. In time, even Manolo Blahnik, architect of the sky high stiletto, was himself wearing Birkenstocks, and Vogue ran a story titled: “Pretty Ugly: Why Vogue Girls Have Fallen for Birkenstock.”

Predictably, the rest of the formerly functional brands have followed fashionable suit, and sales at the shop have never been hotter.

Birkenstocks, however, are not just hot, but “on fire,” said father and son. “And when something pops like that, demand can be hard to fill.” So last summer, they made a “major (buying) commitment to the brand” something which, with 6,000 square feet of inventory space, the shop is unusually well suited to do.

That space “allows us to operate and micro manage stock like a tiny, micro model of a cutting edge, online mass marketer,” said Mark Farber. And that, said his son, opens the way for more of the sort of newly fashion forward footwear that is landing on couture catwalks from places like the Australian outback birthplace of Uggs where 19th century Blundstone farm boots have been restyled for just about anything you can think of. And out of rural Germany birthplace of Birkenstocks where the 19th century Reiker brand has been retooled as the “antistress” shoe for the 21st century foot.

Both these brands, as well as “incredibly comfy” flip flops by Olukai from Hawaii, will soon join the Mark Adrian brand “curated out of thousands” of shoes evaluated for what Adam Farber calls his “footwear trifecta” of “comfort, performance and style.”

They are, say father and son, a perfect fit.

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