Photo courtesy of Southern Polished
By MATT BLOIS
The Brentwood shoe makers Southern Polished are planning to expand production and drop prices for their sandals with manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Tennessee.
Southern Polished is a family business operated by brothers Trent and Heath Potter and their father Norman Potter. Trent and Norman Potter left corporate jobs to join the business, and Heath Potter used to be an educator in Metro public schools.
The company makes men’s and women’s sandals. The family also runs a shoe repair business under the name Potter and Sons.
At first, the company made all of the sandals by hand. A few months ago the family decided to open a production facility in Mexico for men’s sandals.
Now, Southern Polished is hoping to open a manufacturing facility for women’s sandals in Tennessee. Norman Potter said the company would need a building with at least 5,000 square feet. The family is looking at spaces in Columbia, Tennessee.
“What we’re really looking at doing is dropping our prices significantly to a point where we can reach a broader market throughout the United States,” Norman Potter said. “That’s the direction we’re heading right now.”
Southern Polished sandals are only available in a few stores around the Southeast and on the company’s website. Norman Potter said the company had an opportunity earlier this year to place their sandals in more stores nationwide, but decided against it.
Potter said the sandals are already expensive—a pair of men’s flip flops costs more than $80 and women’s sandals cost more than $150—and retail stores generally add a hefty markup.
The company is planning to eventually pull its shoes from stores and sell exclusively online and at its Brentwood location.
Instead of working with retail stores, the family decided to make its sandals more affordable. Opening the manufacturing facilities and cutting out retail markups should allow the company to reduce the price.
“A lot more people will be able to afford it,” Norman Potter said. “Right now, it’s just rich folks who come in and don’t even blink. They hand over the card and take four pair. That’s great, but the more market we can reach the better off we’re going to be.”
The company has also considered creating a new line of men’s shoes under the Potter and Sons brand.
In addition to expanding production and lowering prices, the company is also experiencing growth in the repair business. Thursday Boots, a high end shoe company based in New York, plans to make Potter and Sons its official repair shop.
Under the agreement, any Thursday Boot customers that need shoe repairs will send their boots to Potter and Sons in Brentwood. Those repairs will likely take place in the manufacturing building in Tennessee.
Norman Potter said the repair shop is also seeing increased business because of a new Youtube channel. Trent and Heath Potter recently started making videos showing how they repair or resole shoes at the shop.
Many of the videos have thousands of views. Norman Potter said the new channel is bringing in business from all over the country.