An institution in downtown Missoula since 1978, Hide and Sole is the go-to destination for comfort footwear in Western Montana. The shop caters to an active Montana lifestyle and salesman Isaac Elwood discusses local favorites with us.
How would you describe Hide and Sole?
We cater towards comfort with a sit and fit approach. Our biggest growing segment is outdoor sports—trail running, light hiking and rafting sandals.
Who is your typical customer?
It really varies. Everyone from college kids looking for Birkenstocks to grandmothers who have custom orthotics and anyone in between.
How has business been so far this year?
Sandals came in right as it got warm out and things have been moving really well. I think 2015 will be a good year—the trends we’ve seen so far have all pointed towards comfort so I think we’ll grow this year.
What are your best-selling brands?
Honestly, the most popular thing we sell is the class [Birkenstock] Arizona. We also sell a lot of Danskos—we’ve got two hospitals in this town and Dansko is the favorite.
What’s the best new brand you’ve introduced in the last year?
Can we got with in the last five years? [laughs] We stick with a core selection of brands, but we did introduce Taos a few years ago and it’s done really well. It’s a company that’s designed specifically for women and it’s great because it incorporates trends and style without forsaking comfort. It’s especially good for women who need a comfort shoe but aren’t yet ready to give up on heels completely. They’re comfortable, but still cute and that’s perfect for a lot of women.
What do you think keeps customers coming back to an independent retailer?
The staff’s knowledge and how that fits into the customer experience. You can buy anything you want online these days, but if there’s something you need help with, that isn’t always convenient. If you’ve got to get it shipped, try it on, send it back and get a new one it’s just faster to come into the store. We can direct customers to exactly what they want and help them find what they need.
What’s the best part of your job?
When somebody finally finds the right shoe—especially when it’s someone who’s had trouble finding it. You get to see their face and their smile when they’ve found the right one. People have literally skipped out of the door here. That’s a great feeling.