For more than 60 years, Shoes 4 Comfort has been providing orthopedic shoes and accessories to generations of residents in Silver Spring, MD. For shoppers looking for extended widths and sizes, the store’s knowledgeable staff will hook customers up with comfortable styles from the likes of SAS, New Balance, Clarks, Beautifeel, Mephisto, Munro, Ecco and Naot. Orthotics, insoles, foot care products, and diabetic and casual socks are also available. Marguerite Satian, the store’s president, says her customers’ No. 1 priority is comfort: “That’s what they’re coming to me for, rather than style or price.”
Current top-selling brands: We get a lot of referrals from doctors who advise their patients to come to our store and, ‘Go get a pair of SAS shoes.’ They’re not the most stylish, but they’re comfortable. That’s our main seller, followed by Munro. They offer sizes, widths and half-sizes that many European brands don’t.
Just how has the non-winter to date impacted your sales? People are sticking with what they have and cold-weather shoes aren’t selling.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business? One of the biggest is vendors selling their products online. I don’t think it’s fair to the merchants. We believe in those brands, bring in their merchandise and sell their goods—only for the brands to go online and cut their prices. Are you expanding your footwear assortment this year? Yes, but we’re also going to give a stronger push to SAS and basics from Munro, Naot and Beautifeel. We’re going to play it safe with neutral colors and styles.
Is your customer base recovering, economically speaking? I think so. We do a mailer to our customer base each month and last year, in the springtime, we got at least 100 back from houses that had been abandoned. But since November, that has almost dropped to none. The recovery is real, and we don’t have as many job losses as we did last spring.
How have your customers changed since the recession? Before the recession they would come in and buy at least two pairs. We always tell them that it’s never good to wear one pair of shoes every single day. Now it’s ‘Let me try these out first,’ and ‘My budget won’t allow for two pairs, but next time I’m in the market I’ll definitely know which to buy.’ —Lyndsay McGregor