Clifton Sifford

Job: CEO, President, and Chief Merchandising Officer of Shoe Carnival

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

His Story: Beginning in the shoe business 38 years ago as a salesperson on the floor while attending the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Clifton Sifford remained in his home state until 1997 when Shoe Carnival hired him away from Belk. He and his wife, Kathy, have a second home in Charlotte, where they spend time with two daughters, Emily and Amanda, as well as two grandsons, Lucas and Sam.

His Resume: In 1997, Sifford was hired as senior vice president and general merchandise manager by Shoe Carnival and moved to the Evansville area. He would go on to be promoted to executive vice president and took on additional responsibilities of the marketing division. Two years ago, e-commerce was also added to his department. Then, in October 2012, Sifford was named Shoe Carnival’s newest CEO.

Perspective: “There is nothing better than practical experience.”

On Shoe Carnival’s significance in the Tri-State area:
People don’t realize just how big Shoe Carnival really is — we have stores operating in 33 states and also Puerto Rico. (The company, founded in 1978 in Evansville by David Russell, is a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $547.6 million.) We’re one of the fastest growing shoe retailers in America, and that means employment opportunities for both the distribution center and corporate office. Between our distribution center and our corporate offices, we employ close to 400 people in Evansville. I think it’s something Evansville should be proud of. We are also increasing the size of the West Side store. We’re also active in the community from a philanthropic standpoint. Next year, with the addition of 30 to 35 stores, we expect to be a billion dollar company. Over the next 10 to 11 years, we expect to be a 750-store chain with stores in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

On what makes Shoe Carnival different:
Our stores offer customers a broad selection with deep runs — meaning you can find your style and your size. Our broad selection means Shoe Carnival is our customers’ one-stop shop for shoes — they can buy shoes for the entire family without having to go store to store and across town.

On what it means to be CEO of Shoe Carnival:
It really is a humbling experience as I have the unique opportunity to lead a team of over 5,000 employees through the next phase of Shoe Carnival’s growth. We have a very seasoned management team as well as a unique and exciting store concept, all of which makes my job much easier. Our team is dedicated to making Shoe Carnival not only the best shoe retailer in the country but also the largest. I am very excited about the opportunity to be the CEO of a company whose future is so bright.

On his all-time favorite pair of shoes:
That is a great question. I’m passionate about shoes and I’m not sure I can pick just one. As I said earlier, I have been in the shoe business for close to 38 years and “ever had” is a long time. I remember the first pair of Florsheim boots I bought while going to school — they cost me $75, and I thought I was going to have to take a loan out to pay for them. I loved those boots. Growing up in the Carolinas, every man had a pair of Bass Penny Loafers and Sperry Topsiders. I guess today I would have to tell you I like to wear unique shoes that you don’t see everywhere. But looking back … I still wish I had those old Florsheim boots I bought in 1971.

For more information about Shoe Carnival, visit

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