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It’s sit and fit at Clawson Shoes

Owner Cathy Young receives inventory for the fall. PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MILLER

BY CHRISTIAN MILLER
OU News Bureau

It’s common to enter Clawson Shoes on Tuesday through Saturday and see owner Cathy Young working with customers to find the best shoes for their individual needs.

While big box stores are concerned with convenience, Young is all about service.

“We pride ourselves on being a sit-and-fit store because there’s not many of us left,” Young said. “Customers come in, sit down and we measure their feet, ask them what they’re looking for style-wise and if they have any orthopedics or medical issues.”

Young, who has overseen the 1,600-square-foot shop for 13 years, took over from her father.

“My dad had been working at the store since 1963,” Young said. “When the original store owner retired in 1979, my parents officially bought it.”

Frequenting the store from an early age, Young learned the tricks of the trade.

“In the old days you’d run some newspapers ads and that was about it,” Young said. “Now, there’s a lot of different ways to try to grab people and there’s a lot of ways you miss people.”

With today’s technology expediting the shopping process, Young has had to adjust.

“Advertising used to be the least challenging part for me, and now it’s the most challenging,” Young said. “The internet and digital marketing have changed everything for me, so finding the right way to capture the audience is tricky.”

Employee Ron Kloka helps Clawson resident Liz Kencik find the right shoes. PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MILLER

Medical practitioners and educational workers account for most of Young’s clientele since they’re on their feet most of the day. But customers from all walks of life come in.

Liz Kencik of Clawson needed a pair of shoes wide enough to fit her feet.

“Any time I go shopping at stores I’m able to find the right shoe size, but it’s too tight on the sides of my feet,” Kencik said. “I’d rather come here where I can physically know if my shoe will comfortably fit.””

Along with customer service, another advantage to Young’s business is her selection of brands and sizes.

“It’s not apples to apples what the big box stores carry and what stores like mine have,” Young said. “The New Balance that you find, say, at Kohl’s or one of the big box stores, will not be the same as I carry because what we sell has more support and wider widths. Sometimes, companies like New Balance will make shoes just for those big box stores to satisfy a selling point.”

Young’s dog, Charley, greets Clawson Shoes customers. PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MILLER

Employee Ron Kloka tracks stock and is responsible for servicing customers.

“Our best-selling shoe is the SAS brand with New Balance coming in at a close second,” Kloka said. “San Antonio Shoes are made in America and extremely durable, which seems to explain their popularity with customers.”

Online competition from Amazon and national chains threatens Young’s business, but networking has kept her afloat.

For Young, building bridges has been more constructive than burning them.

“I like to keep it friendly because there are so few of us left and sometimes I share and receive great ideas from other stores,” Young said. “I think there’s enough business to go around, and you never know when you might need some help.”

 

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Posted by on Oct 26 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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