By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series called the 25 Days of Downtown Christmas that will highlight the fantastic selection of retailers in downtown Garden City.
Jeff Schaffer, owner/manager of Brown’s Shoe Fit Co. in downtown Garden City, loves running a shoe store here.
Schaffer, a Dodge City native, has owned and operated Brown’s Shoe Fit, 314 N. Main St., for the past three years. He started with the company about 12 years ago as a part time employee at the Hays store while attending Fort Hays State University. After deciding to make it a career, Schaffer worked his way up through the company and was owner/manager in Ponca City, Okla., before the opportunity arose to come back to southwest Kansas.
Personally, Schaffer said, the best part about running his own business is the ability to tailor it to the community and his customers. He can get products customers specifically ask for, decorate the store and give back to the community without seeking a decision on those things from a corporation.
“Garden City is a wonderful community to be a part of, and downtown offers a lot of these specialty stores like Brown’s,” he said.
Brown’s Shoe Fit Co., began in Shenandoah, Iowa, in 1911. Today, the company has 80 locally owned stores in 12 states across the country, all partner owned and run by managers who have ties to their communities or areas.
Brown’s is a comfort, family shoe store that specializes in service and fitting customers, Schaffer said.
“The best way to get what the customer is looking for and needs is sitting down and talking to them, finding out what they wear, when they wear it, what their foot problems are. We can find something that makes their feet feel better,” he said.
That type of service is what sets Brown’s apart from the mass produced offerings found at big box stores. Schaffer said the store has access to brands that other companies don’t, and those brands offer better quality and other features that address particular foot needs.
“I go to market four times a year at least and get to speak with these companies one on one, rather than just ordering from a catalog. I get to express my customers’ concerns to them,” Schaffer said.
Brown’s has had a presence in downtown Garden City since 1999.
“Our customers are like family,” he said. “They keep coming back and we get to see them multiple times a year. Over that 18 year time frame, we’ve seen kids become adults and we hope they’ll bring their kids in, too.”
Caring for your feet
Proper foot care is not something to take for granted. Schaffer said people’s feet change over the years, making it important to be measured frequently so their shoes fit properly. A proper fit can help avoid certain foot ailments.
“People are becoming for health-focused. Proper fitting footwear and good shoes is just one of those steps to a better, healthier life,” he said.
In addition to Schaffer, three other employees staffing the store. Brown’s offers various sales and specials during the year, as well as a rewards program/frequent buyer club. Check the store for details.
Brown’s is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Sundays 1 to 5 p.m.