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Tuesday October 22nd, 2019 7:58PM

Allbirds, a shoe brand born online, to double stores

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Online shoe brand Allbirds plans to more than double its store count next year, hoping to reach shoppers who want to touch and try on its wool shoes.

The company said Tuesday that it plans to open 20 stores in 2020, bringing its total number of stores to about 35 by the end of the year.

While many mall-based retailers are closing locations, online startups like mattress seller Casper and men's clothing brand Untuckit are expanding into brick-and-mortar stores.

Allbirds said it can't ignore stores since most footwear sales are still happening there. Plus, the staff in stores can explain the unusual materials used in its shoes, such as wool, tree fiber and sugar cane.

"The idea of being able to touch, feel and understand the quality of what we're putting into our products is pretty important," said Allbirds co-CEO Tim Brown.

Founded five years ago, Allbirds's shoes have found their way onto the feet of tech CEOs and movie stars. (Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is an investor.) The company opened its first store a year after launching in its hometown of San Francisco.

The store expansion will bring it into cities where it's never been, including Atlanta, Dallas and Denver. Allbirds said all its U.S. stores have been profitable within two months of opening.

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