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Warehouse welcomes foot traffic

Event: Local business coordinates with national shoe retailer to host a sale that attracts thousands

Posted: November 8, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 8, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Thousands of people carrying folding chairs and tents lined up before sunrise outside the AMS Fulfillment warehouse in the Valencia Commerce Center on Saturday to get sale prices on TOMS Shoes.

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When TOMS Shoes closes out inventory, it turns to its order-fulfillment and warehouse partner, AMS Fulfillment of Valencia to handle the sale.

The Santa Clarita Valley-based business opened its doors 8 a.m. Saturday for TOMS Shoes’ customers to shop and pick up shoes at discounted prices.

AMS Fulfillment opened for business Saturday to lines of shoppers winding almost fully around one of many warehouses it occupies in the Valencia Commerce Center.

People camped out

People were lining up at 9:30 p.m. on Friday and camping out, said Jay Catlin, president and managing partner of AMS Fulfillment.

Customers who waited until Saturday morning to line up waited for hours to get inside. The people who showed up at 6 a.m. didn’t get in until noon, Catlin said.

“It’s controlled mayhem,” said Ken Wiseman, CEO and managing partner of AMS Fulfillment.

People reportedly traveled from as far away as San Diego and San Jose to choose from more than 10,000 pairs of shoes, Catlin said.

“We estimate more than 3,000 people came through our place,” he said.

AMS Fulfillment kept the sale, which was supposed to stop at 5 p.m., going until 6:30 p.m. so that everyone who stood in line could get in to shop for shoes.

More people came through this year, compared with last year’s event, and sales were up, Catlin said.

“We’re still tallying all the numbers but it looks like sales were up 20 to 25 percent this year,” he said.

Loyal customer base

TOMS Shoes has a lot of very excited and loyal fans, Catlin said.

Founded in 2006, the business was inspired by a trip to Argentina, during which founder Blake Mycoskie saw children walking without shoes. After returning to Santa Monica, Mycoskie launched TOMS Shoes, designing and selling shoes based on the Argentinean alpargata design.

TOMS, which donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, sold 100,000 pairs of shoes in its first year of business.

Even though the shoes being sold in the inventory closeout sale were discounted, Catlin said, TOMS Shoes is still donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold Saturday.

AMS sale benefits others

“The sale at AMS benefited other businesses in the retail center next door,” Catlin said.

A line of people waiting to get into the sale was so long it almost fully encircled the warehouse, he said. There was no parking left at AMS or the retail center next door, and people from the TOMS Shoes sale were walking around visiting businesses in the retail center.

There were some unique shoes at the sale that never made it to market, Catlin said, including some sample shoes that designers had been working on.

“You could see scribbles from the designers on some shoes, showing they were working on the new designs,” Catlin said.

“It takes a lot of work setting up and staging one of the AMS Fulfillment warehouses to get ready for the sale, and then managing the sale,” Catlin said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but its fun.”

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