|Jason P. Davis|
Jason P. Davis, CPed, said his grandfather inspired him to become a
board-certified pedorthist. William E. Davis lost half his right arm, his right
eye and a left finger to German fire in World War II.
“So I always think of him when I make toe fillers for forefoot
amputees and work with lower leg amputees to help help them walk better,”
Davis said. “My dad, who was in Vietnam, is my hero. My grandfather is my
Davis is the staff pedorthist at the Foot Solutions franchise store in
Creve Coeur, Miss., a St. Louis suburb. He sometimes tells visitors about his
forebearer, who farmed near Poplar Bluff, in southeast Missouri.
|Davis takes time to measure each
one of his customers using a Brannock device to give them the best fit
|Images: Craig B, O&P Business
“He was in General Patton’s army. A shell hit his tank and
killed everybody in it but him. He got a prosthetic eye but never an artificial
arm. But he worked hard for the rest of his life. I named my son for him,”
Davis got his first job selling shoes in 1991, when he was a freshman at
Meramec Community College in St. Louis. Davis good naturedly endured the Al
Bundy jokes from his classmates.
“I still hear the jokes sometimes,” Davis said with a chuckle.
“But I tell people the difference between Al Bundy and a pedorthist is
that a pedorthist knows what he’s doing.”
Davis, a St. Louis native, studied communications, psychology and music
at Meramec. Even so, he decided to make shoe retailing his career after he
graduated in 1994.
Eventually, Davis gravitated into comfort footwear. He learned to craft
orthotics and completed his certification in 2003. He went to work at the Foot
Solutions store in 2008.
Davis took his pre-certification courses at Oklahoma State
University-Okmulgee under Rick Sevier, CPed, BOCPD.
“He’s a great teacher, a great mentor and my good friend.
He’s one of the best pedorthics teachers anywhere,” he said.
Davis said Sevier taught him that the best pedorthists practice the
“Treat other people like you would want to be treated. But
that’s not all. Don’t let your ego get the best of you. There are
some big egos in this business,” he said.
Egos, Davis added, can get in the way of solving foot problems.
|A growing number of Davis’
customers have diabetes and he spends time educating these individuals about
“You’ve got to listen to your patients. Ask them questions.
Investigate and find out what’s happening with their feet,” he said.
“And always remember they, not you, live inside their bodies. It
doesn’t matter how long you’ve gone to school to learn pedorthics. If
you don’t take the time to listen to your patients, you won’t be able
to help them.”
He said first-timers at the store are almost always surprised at the
time he takes with them, especially because the store staff consists of owner
Bill Wirz and Davis.
“It doesn’t matter how crowded the store is, we always take
our time with them,” he said.
Clients or patients are served one at a time. Feet get measured before
they go into footwear.
“People really appreciate that,” he said. “A lot of older
people say they haven’t had their feet measured since they were
Davis’ purple and silver women’s Brannock device gets a little
more action than his black and silver men’s model. That’s because
most people who come seeking his shoes are women.
Most of his clients do not have serious foot problems. They want
athletic shoes or dress or casual shoes that are easy on the feet.
He also sees a growing number of patients sent by doctors. Many of his
referrals have diabetes.
“We see a lot of peripheral neuropathy with them. A good number of
them don’t know that can cause limb loss. So I educate them at the fitting
stool,” he said.
He and Wirz also educate health care professionals about how a
practicing pedorthist can help his or her patients.
“Chiropractors, doctors and physical therapists – we go to
their offices and talk to them,” Davis said. “We want to be part of
the health care team.”
Like a physician, Davis dons a white lab coat at work.
“Some people confuse me with a podiatrist,” he said, smiling.
“I tell them I’m not. But my job is to help them walk out the door
feeling better than when they came in.”
People who do come in find shoes, socks and orthotics – custom and
over the counter – plus other footwear accessories.
“We try to give people what they need or want,” Davis said.
“Sometimes, shoes are what they need. Other times it is shoes and
orthotics. But we don’t over-provide.”
Most of his clients are middle-aged or older women.
“But we’re getting younger people, too,” he said.
“This next generation is getting a little bit smarter about their
So are companies that manufacture comfort shoes, Davis added.
“They’re learning to mix comfort and style. Older people, especially
women, who are used to wearing stylish shoes appreciate that.”
A good team
He said elderly customers and patients appreciate the store’s
location. Foot Solutions-Creve Coeur is in Heritage Place, a strip shopping
center. The store is wheelchair accessible from the curb.
“People can park outside and come right in, a lot of times on a
walker,” he said.
He said often elderly people are brought by their middle-aged children.
“They see our shoes and want them, too. Quality shoes, plus
personal service, bring people back – and they tell other people about
us,” he said. “The best advertising is word of mouth. A happy
customer will bring five people in, and an unhappy customer will tell 10 people
not to come.”
Davis said he and Wirz make a good team.
“He takes care of the business end of this,” Davis said.
“I love doing what I’m doing.”
Mission to help others
The team does more than dispense footwear to people in and around St.
Louis. For example, as a special project, they provided 17,500 of pairs of
shoes to people in dire need of footwear: victims of the devastating 2010
earthquake in Haiti.
“Bill and I wanted to help, so we decided to have a shoe drive for
St. Louis,” Davis said.
They contacted the media. Local TV reporters came and interviewed Wirz.
“He said we’d be happy to get people to donate 500
pairs,” Davis explained. “We ended up with 17,500 pairs – new
ones that people went out and bought and used shoes that were in good
Wirz and Davis worked through Nashville, Tennessee-based Soles for
Souls, a charity that provides new and gently worn shoes to poor people around
the world. A trailer truck arrived to take away the small mountain of shoes
Wirz and Davis had collected.
Brush with celebrity
They got some unexpected assistance from a celebrity who came to donate
five packing boxes of shoes.
“Chris Carpenter helped us load the truck,” Davis said.
Major league baseball fans know Carpenter as a star pitcher for the
“He was awesome,” Davis said of the 2005 National League Cy
Young Award winner.
When he worked at a different store, Davis straddled a fitting stool in
front of another celebrity. “She was nice, too.”
That customer was Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee. She grew
up across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois.
St. Louis artist Mary Englebreit was another famous customer whom Davis
fitted with a pair of shoes. She gave him autographed copies of books that
featured her work.
Disclosure: Jason P. Davis has no relevant financial disclosures.