Kentucky Pedorthist Bases His Practice on ‘Faith in the Goodness of People’

After spending close to three decades marketing shoes to shoe retailers,
Jim Sheridan, CPed, decided to open his own shoe store. The Kentuckian became a
board-certified pedorthist.

Meld interests

“When I started my store, I had all of this information about
shoes, but I didn’t have the ability to put it in practice,” he said.
“So I got certified.”

Sheridan owns the Cool Comfort Body & Soul shoe store in Frankfort,
the Bluegrass State’s historic old capital. His wife, Francee Schloesser,
inspired the store’s name.

Although Jim Sheridan, CPed is a retail pedorthist he also considers himself an allied health professional.
Although Jim Sheridan, CPed is a
retail pedorthist he also considers himself an allied health professional.
Images: Craig B, O&P Business

“I’m about comfort and she’s about cute shoes,” he
said with a chuckle. “Some of these comfort shoe companies have made huge
strides in producing shoes that look good and market well.”

Sheridan, a CPed since 2009, still hits the road marketing Saucony
athletic shoes.

“I am a sales representative in Kentucky and Tennessee. I take an
athletic approach to all footwear. If you have the right biomechanics, you can
improve performance and comfort,” he said.

Put in the time

Sheridan says he is a retail pedorthist, but he considers himself an
allied health care professional.

“Most doctors don’t know the footwear side of this,” he
said. “But they know that I can take care of their patients with the
proper footwear.”

Most physicians, even if they know about shoes, do not have the time to
explain footwear to their patients, Sheridan said.

“This isn’t a knock against the medical profession, but it is
amazing to me how many patients come to me and say their podiatrist or
orthopedist didn’t spend much time with them,” he said. “We can
spend the time with them. That raises their comfort level. When you tell them
how the shoes or orthotics will help them, it makes them more likely to comply
with what they need to do.”

Fulfill needs conveniently

Sheridan said he is better able to fulfill patient needs since he moved
his store from downtown Frankfort to a suburban strip center.

“It’s the convenience. People with problems can park right at
the door. It is not uncommon for us to go out and get them,” he said,
adding that parking was a problem downtown. “We were there for 2 years and
really enjoyed the atmosphere. We were in an old, historic building. But people
who needed our help weren’t coming to us because parking was a hindrance
to them. We’ve been here a year and a half, and business has gone through
the roof.”

Cool Comfort is a destination business, which Sheridan bills online as
“a lifestyle store for men and women.”

“People know where to find us. But it helps that we are in a major
shopping area,” he said. “We are also near Frankfort’s medical
area, or what little there is compared to Lexington or Louisville

He said assisted living facilities are close by, too.

“They are around the hospitals. I can and do go up to the
facilities and do all the fitting and come back here and get stock. Because
they’re not nearby, people who moved away from Frankfort and have parents
here often tell us to go up and see mom or dad,” he said.

Personal service

Most of Cool Comfort Body & Soul’s customers are looking for comfortable shoes.
Most of Cool Comfort Body &
Soul’s customers are looking for comfortable shoes.

First-time customers at Cool Comfort Shoes are often surprised by the
personal attention they receive. The self-service era has not dawned at the
store – and will never come, according to Sheridan.

“We don’t ask people, ‘What size?’ We measure their
feet. We ask them about what issues, if any, they are having with their
feet,” he said.

Clinical Tip

Trying to coax a customer – especially a woman –
into a larger size shoe can be a close encounter of the worst kind, Sheridan

“So when I measure her feet, I don’t tell her the
size I get. I just go in the back and get the shoes. I turn the boxes around so
she can’t see the size printed on them. Then, when I try on the shoes, and
she says they feel great, I tell her the size. Rarely do they object to a
larger size.”


He cited a customer who works at the Toyota auto plant in nearby

“This gentleman was having all kinds of metatarsal problems –
neuromas all over the balls of his feet. He was a young guy – he was fit
and running 15 to 20 miles a week.”

Sheridan asked him if he did heavy lifting at the factory.

“He said ‘no’ but told me his job
required him to rotate back and forth all day, spinning on the balls of his
feet. I ended up sending him to a doctor to get a prescription for

Sheridan said his patience paid off for more than the customer.

“After that, we ended up with a bunch of referrals from

Attract the customers

Even so, he said most of his customers do not have foot problems.

“Most of them are women – about 65%. Francee is always pushing
me to stretch the ‘comfort’ label a little bit. So we do the Danskos,
the Merrells – shoes with a little more style.”

He said comfort footwear is an easier sell to older customers,
especially baby boomers who want to stay active.

“Kids think they’re bullet proof,” Sheridan said,

To help attract younger female customers, Sheridan sells handbags to go
with shoes. Store décor is more shoe salon than medical office. Neither
Sheridan nor his five employees wear lab coats.

Customers can wiggle their toes in Persian-style rugs. Shoes are
displayed on rustic planks nailed to walls. Socks, apparel, locally-made
jewelry, discs for playing disc golf and runners’ accessories round out
the store’s product line.

“But occasionally, somebody will come in, and we will fit them and
then they leave and buy the same shoes online. My wife sometimes fusses at me
for giving away so much information,” he said. “But education is what
pedorthists do. And you’ve got to have faith in the goodness of

Disclosure: Jim Sheridan, CPed has no
direct finacial interest in any of the products mentioned in this article.

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