Customer service, satisfaction at the heart of the 57 years of existence of Brown Shoes Inc.

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A dedication to customer service and satisfaction has kept Brown Shoes Inc. in business for over half a century.

In 1965, Bayard Brown put his experience as a shoe salesman to good use and opened his own store, Brown Shoes Inc., at 2108 Tremont Center.

Initially, Brown and his wife, Marge, capitalized on the store’s proximity to Tremont Elementary and the growing community by selling children’s shoes.

Since then, the Browns, followed by their son Jeff and his wife, Patty, have refocused the store on orthopedic footwear and, beginning in 2001, adult footwear.

Throughout the change, they sought to keep the store, as Jeff puts it, “a real old-fashioned shoe store” that identifies each customer’s needs and provides them with quality service and products.

“Over time, marks come and marks go,” Jeff said. “Our name remains on the door.

“We have always brought the best the market has to offer to consumers.”

Now in its 57th year of operation, the 2,400 square foot Brown Shoes has undergone few physical transformations.

Before becoming the owner in 1988, Jeff cut his teeth in the business washing store windows at the age of 12. He was 16 when he sold his first pair of shoes for the family.

“I’m 66 now,” Jeff said. “So I’ve been selling shoes for 50 years.”

In addition to decades of experience, Patty points out that her 43-year-old husband is a certified pedorthist, which according to the Academy of Pedorthic Sciences is a medical professional specifically trained in comprehensive foot care using therapeutic footwear and foot support orthoses.

“We fit people who have AFO orthotics (ankle-foot orthotics) and anyone with arthritis or diabetes,” Patty said. “We care about what customers get and we care about serving customers. We can watch the foot and know what is the best thing for you.

“We don’t just sell shoes. We want to make sure the customer is satisfied and do what’s right for them. We sell service and satisfaction.”

Jeff said the majority of the store’s clientele are repeat customers, but said he sees new customers every year. These new sales are driven, he said, primarily by people searching for special shoe products or services via the Internet.

Word of mouth is another way for the store to reach new customers.

Jim Underwood, an Upper Arlington resident who has been a customer for about 10 years, said he shopped at the company for “a very simple reason.”

“I go there for good shoes so my feet don’t hurt,” he said.

Underwood said that as a child his mother drove from Bexley to Brown Shoes because she felt the quality of the shoes were better than other stores.

Over the years, he said, the Browns have outfitted him with shoes that help him live an active and pain-free life, including standing for about eight hours straight while serving as an usher at games. football from Ohio State University.

Additionally, Underwood enjoys supporting independent local businesses and he has befriended the Browns over the years.

“They are nice, honest people and they have good shoes,” he said. “Jeff is going to pull out an armful of shoes because he just wants to give me options.

“If he doesn’t have what I want, he will order it specially and, sometimes, he will bring it to my house. They are very nice people and they take care of their customers very well.”

Similarly, Paul Wallschlaeger, who suffers from nerve damage to the soles of his feet, said he came from Powell to get quality shoes for himself and his 90-year-old mother, Jeannette Wallschlaeger.

“I like local, mom-and-pop places over big-box stores,” Wallschlaeger said. “I also got to know the Browns through my church (New Hope Church in Powell).

“I like doing business where it’s more personal. It’s worth the extra miles to support small businesses and keep them going.”

Jeff said he believed Brown Shoes had stood the test of time by “offering quality products at a fair price and providing good service”.

“We do specialized things that no one else does,” he said. “We offer sizes you won’t find elsewhere.”

He added that the Tremont Center was a good location for the business, both because of the customer traffic it gets and because it’s a safe area that caters to family businesses.

Looking ahead, Jeff said there are no plans to stop selling shoes and he looks forward to Brown Shoes celebrating 60 years in business and continuing to make customers happy.

“We’re just here to help people,” he said. “If they need a good pair of shoes, we can help them.”

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