From Footwear News: “How to Build a Multibillion-Dollar Brand, According to Jimmy Buffett”
You won’t find Margaritaville on any map, but it is taking over the globe.
A little over 40 years ago, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett released his hit album “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes,” featuring a catchy tune about wasting away in a tropical locale. In the ensuing decades, the pop song has been transformed into a roughly $2.5 billion licensing and hospitality operation.
Margaritaville Holdings encompasses everything from restaurants and hotels to apparel and shoes. Here in New York, it debuted a Broadway musical in January — “Escape to Margaritaville” — and a Times Square hotel is in the works for 2020.
Buffett is deeply invested in all these endeavors. When FN visited him in the green room at the show in April, Buffett was peering out the window watching the lines outside. And he made a point of mentioning that the cast wears his Margaritaville footwear onstage.
For fall ’18, the company is further boosting its shoe selection with a new label called Island Reserve. It will be a higher-end complement to the Margaritaville collection, which is stocked at major chains such as Famous Footwear and DSW, and sells for under $60.
How would you describe the Jimmy Buffett brand?
“It’s authentic because I lived this way for a long time. I went where it was cold to work when I had
to, but I would prefer to stay where it’s warm. And when I found Key West, I had a job singing in bars and working on fishing boats. And at that time, I thought it was pretty cool to do that.”
Have you enjoyed being in the theater business?
“It’s been a wonderful experience with a joyous cast. When I first started my band, we wanted to take people to a place where they could forget about stuff, and it’s the same thing with ‘Escape to Margaritaville.’ But there are some fun-police in New York that think we don’t belong there, but we’re doing just fine. People love the show. They go there and have a great time, and so to hell with The New York Times.”
What do you hope your legacy will be?
“I like to think I’ve made the world a little happier than it was before I got here. I’m not looking for awards and personal gain more than what I’ve already got. There’s an old French saying, ‘noblesse oblige,’ which means if you’re lucky enough to have this, then you help other people get there. I want to teach and I want to help kids who need financial aid getting into school – education is the thing that gets you places.