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If the shoe fits wear it, new store owner says

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Cathy Dobson

Many shoe shoppers have never learned the value of having their feet measured, says new storeowner Deb Hartwick.

“They are ruining their feet if their shoes don’t fit right,” she said. “I was taught how to fit shoes properly and had good teachers in retail to learn from.

“I can educate my customers.”

Hartwick has worked in local retail for 25 years, with another 10 years in the shoe business.

She grew up in Sarnia, raised her family here and worked for two local shoe stores in the past decade.

She remembers when numerous independent shoe stores in town trained their staff to fit a shoe properly.

She also remembers how many of those family-owned businesses shut down when big box stores arrived, families flocked to department stores and Internet retail took off.

The problem with the big stores and Internet is no one gets fitted anymore, said Hartwick.

“For instance, you need to have the arch support in the right spot or you could have problems later on.

“Customers need to feel what a good shoe feels like,” she said. “When they do, they say, ‘Oh my God, where have you been all my life!’”

Earlier this year, she made the decision to open her own women’s shoe store in Sarnia’s north end.

“I figured I could do the same thing I was doing for someone else and make it my own,” she said.  “The timing was right. I had developed the confidence to do it.”

Deb’s Shoe Gallery at 1119 Lakeshore Rd. opened in May and specializes in hard-to-find sizes.

It’s tough to find quality shoes if you have narrow or wide feet in Sarnia,” said Hartwick.

“Now you don’t have to go out of town.”

She also carries orthotic shoes such as Naot, a line made in Israel that can be customized.  Naot sandals sell for approximately $175 a pair.

Other popular brands that are not orthotic include Keds where summer sneakers cost about $55, and Grasshoppers, where a mid-range walking shoe with lots of support sells for $65.

Deb’s Shoe Gallery also carries rieker antistress shoes, a German manufacturer with European flare.

“Our shoes range from about $200 to $55 a pair and everything in between,” said Hartwick.  “And I intend to expand our selection in the fall.”

Deb’s Shoe Gallery markets to women aged 25 and over, working moms and businesswomen.

“I think independent stores have to fight a stigma of being for old ladies,” said Hartwick.  “That’s why I’ve got the Skechers and the Keds.

“We’ve got shoes that appeal to all women who appreciate a well-made product.”

Deb’s Shoe Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Lunches are now being offered at Totally Game Meat, which opened last August at 126 Christina St.

Totally Game retails farmed game meat and poultry, all free range and hormone free, and is now a deli too.

Lunch items include Indian tacos, elk chili and bison burgers available for take out.  Catering will soon be available as well.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.


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