I have been working for a children’s shoe store for over 5 years. We specialize in children that have foot issues such as flat feet, low muscle tone, knock knees, or any other type of foot problem that might come to your mind. As stated, this makes my role as well as the store highly specific. No child leaves the store until they are wearing the correct pair of shoes. If you have read any of my previous posts, you should know by now the importance that properly fitted shoes have in keeping our kids’ feet healthy.
We often get families that come to the store referred by their pediatricians, to have the child evaluated and fitted for orthotics and good, supportive shoes.We see a lot of children that are experiencing foot and leg pain, and 70% of the time is due to them NOT wearing the correct pair of shoes. Sometimes, these children were fitted for shoes in stores such as Nordstrom’s or Stride Rite, and I am sure you have heard of these two places before. My main issue with these stores is that they don’t train their staff to be able to properly fit your children in the correct pair of shoes.
I can’t blame the staff that works there, but when I see a child that was fitted in these stores wearing the wrong shoe size, it frustrates me since they are putting the child’s foot and leg health in danger. I want to believe that these salespeople simply don’t know what they are doing, and that they don’t fit children in the wrong pair of shoes just to make a sale.
I have all sort of different stories of children being fitted at these stores wearing shoe sizes that were way off! If you want to learn more about why I encourage parents to STOP taking their children to be fitted for shoes at these stores, you can read a post I wrote that is called:
When it comes to fitting the feet of your growing children, I cannot imagine any reason (or excuse) to go somewhere other than an independent shoe store where they will get specialized attention. Here are the TOP 4 REASONS why independent children’s shoe stores are the way to go when your child needs a new pair of shoes:
Specialization – We Know Exactly What We Are Doing!
You are already at a store that specializes in what you are looking for: children’s shoes, in this case. There is no corporate buyer making the calls as to what is on offer for fitting your child. For instance, at the store I work for, we have a particular person ordering/buying specific brands and specific shoe styles. It’s as straightforward as that. There is no corporate tower dictating what brands and shoes should go in our store based on geographic demographics.
We are able to order our own shoe brands, and we can choose the ones that offer shoes in different widths. For example, certain shoes come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide. We choose to order these shoes because we know children feet come in different shapes, and we must have every single width to accommodate for their feet.
The staff that is hired at independent stores is not made up of vague sales associates. We are trained in fitting shoes, brand knowledge, and high-end customer service. We know precisely who we work for and it really and truly forms a bond, a commitment to excellence and delivering the best results for customers and the store.
Did you now that children shoes come in wide and extra wide widths? The reason I ask you this is because places like Nordstrom’s and Payless don’t seem to carry shoes in different widths, since they are probably not fashionable enough to make their selection. If you are having a hard time finding wide or extra wide shoes for your child, you can read a post I wrote where I describe the best wide and extra wide with shoes for children. The post is called:
Stores usually tend to pay a higher salary and provide medical insurance to employees, which allows the store to retain them for longer periods of time, creating a family atmosphere. And customers value walking in a store where they recognize the faces. We work with our store’s vision. We’re not a brand, we’re an independent retailer.
We Enjoy What We Do – Incentives Not Based on Commission
This is a key differentiation in the independent retailer versus chain retailers. At independent stores, commission doesn’t necessarily motivate the staff. This absolutely sets the tone for the store’s staff and encourages/insists. The sell-sell-sell model is completely demoralizing, in my humble opinion, for both the employees and the customers. Rather, we are providing a basic function: outfitting your children for shoes.
We work with the foot, and thus are interested in the fit. We can’t have your child walking away with shoes that pinch their toes or leave their heels chaffed. We’re here to outfit your children for school, play, and special occasions. The bottom line of independent stores is more often than not customer satisfaction and fostering meaningful relationships between staff and customers.
Vision and Versatility – We Truly Care About Your Kids’ Feet!
You will find a different and unique vision for every independent retailer rather than a large overarching vision that has to fit the mold of hundred to thousands of stores nationwide and in some cases, globally. Our store’s vision is simple: Provide outstanding customer service and fit your children’s feet with the most responsible and knowledgeable approach possible.
We hand-selected as what our team considers to be the best for our vision – the best fitting shoes for children and the best shoes to fit the different parts of their lives (school, play, special occasions).
Personalization – The Bonds Are Real!
What’s so special about independent retailers is the personalized attention each customer is guaranteed. Customers come back and refer their friends and family to shop at a store like the one I work for based on the quality of our service, from fitting to brand knowledge even to fashion advice. I have formed bonds with the customers, not only the parents but the children as well. In some cases, I will see the family four, maybe five times a year, but when they come through that door it feels like I am being reunited with an old friend.
These families are placing their complete trust in me with their children’s feet and I must use all my expertise so that child can move around in comfortable, well fitted shoes.
Choosing an independent retailer for your children’s footwear is a personal choice, but I hope that this article has illuminated why it is worthwhile. Now, I understand not all families have an independent shoe store in their area that they trust. If this is the case you can always email with any questions you might have about your kids’ feet. If you are having a hard time finding a particular shoe in a certain width such as extra wide for example, let me know!
In the meantime, you can read a post I created where I describe the best fitting shoes for children, and the post is called:
If you don’t have a local kids’ shoe store to take your kids to, below you can find a selection of the best kids sneakers that are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide!
Do you have a favorite place where you take your children to be fitted for shoes? Have you shopped at Stride Rite or Nordstrom’s before? What was your experience like? Please share your thoughts and experiences so we can all benefit it from them!