In our March issue, Robert S. Schwartz, CPed, president and chief executive officer of Eneslow Pedorthic Enterprises Inc., discussed the advantages of building positive relationships with referral sources such as podiatrists and other physicians for retail pedorthic business owners.
To continue this discussion, Schwartz recently spoke with O&P Business News about the characteristics of pedorthic retail shoe store businesses.
Part of being successful is being current, according to Schwartz. The pedorthic shoe store owner is required to keep up with the latest styles and trends. Retail pedorthists have to find stylish footwear that appeals to their consumer’s aesthetic and lifestyle footwear wants, as well as their therapeutic needs, Schwartz explained. This can often be a difficult task to undertake.
So what are the current pedorthic footwear trends? According to Schwartz, the consumer’s increased knowledge and interest in fitness has not gone unnoticed by shoe manufactuers. Major shoe companies are producing footwear designed for the active wearer with the health benefits they are seeking in mind. Fitness footwear is a growing trend and Schwartz expects the pedorthic industry to take advantage of this rising interest.
“People are going to be wearing shoes with rocker heels and rocker soles,” Schwartz said. “I think the current wellness footwear trend is as big as the athletic footwear trends of the 1970s, 1980s and the European footwear trend of the 1990s.”
In addition to fitness footwear, fashion comfort is an ongoing trend. When comfort is combined with fashion, pedorthists have the opportunity to embrace the consumer’s desires for fashionable and comfortable footwear. This combination opens the door for a pedorthic retail establishment to grow and compete with others within the industry.
“As a pedorthist, you have the skills to incorporate those shoes into patient’s lives,” Schwartz explained. “You can get more consumers to understand that if they come to you, they will be offered the best selection of properly fitted footwear and will be trained on how to use their shoes for maximum comfort.”
Despite the shoe industry trending in the direction of fashion comfort, and indirectly toward pedorthics, a pedorthic retail shoe business owner must also face the reality of the current and future economy.
Schwartz said that right now business in New York City is difficult, especially in retail. Still, he said now may be the best time for pedorthists to open their own retail shoe businesses, as long as they are preparing for the long term and not focused on the results they may see in the short term.
“You are starting at a low point and business is not going to fly back up,” Schwartz explained. “Business will only rise incrementally.”
Schwartz recommends that all business owners closely consider the reality of their financial situation. If pedorthists do not feel as though their business will survive on prescriptions alone, they must market to the current trends in order to grow their business.
Businesses do not grow based on marketing dollars alone. As your business slowly endures the economic climate and expands, pedorthists are going to need more inventory and owners must make sure that their staff continues to be trained and educated in foot wellness trends and techniques, Schwartz said. Businesses must be sufficiently capitalized in order to maintain this growth. This, combined with positive relationships with doctors and podiatrists, can lead to a successful pedorthic retail shoe business.
“The opportunity in pedorthic retailing is exponential because we can get a doctor to send a patient to a location that offers devices that consumers not only need, but want and desire,” Schwartz said. — by Anthony Calabro
As an independent retailer, you can not help but notice and participate in the health and wellness concept. Today’s consumers want more from their investments — not just their 401Ks — but from their footwear as well.
We do not want any quality of life issues, so we do what we can to beat Father Time. We eat organic foods and join health clubs. If you can receive another health benefit by wearing shoes that can do more, you try them as well.
The vendors also realize that having these shoes in a pedorthic retail environment provides them with feedback on what does and does not work. In a proactive pedorthic retail environment, you will have more applications for the shoes, by using them for more therapeutic formulas.
Fortunately, we have many options to choose from. Unfortunately, so do consumers, and with traditional footwear they do not always make the right choice.
When all is said and done, the retailers who have aligned themselves with the vendors who provide a good product, with a profitable formula, succeed.
— Luis Altoro, CPed
Owner, Comfort Plus Shoes and Footcare
For more information:
- Calabro A. How to build a successful pedorthic retail shoe business: Part one. O&P Business News. 2010; 19(4):27.