Many health care professionals who work at hospitals do not often get to
a shoe store to be properly fitted for footwear. Typically, their busy
schedules leave scant time for shopping.
“So we decided to bring the shoes to them,” said Carol
Crocker-Griggs, CPed, of St. Louis.
“We” is Laurie’s Shoes, a family-owned, six-store retail
footwear firm where Crocker-Griggs is a staff
pedorthist. “Them” means doctors, nurses, hospital
employees and even local folks who live as far from St. Louis as Michigan.
|Shoe Roads Productions, which
debuted in 2006, is a traveling “shoe store” for doctors, nurses,
hospital staff and local communities.
|Images: Craig B|
“We call ourselves Shoe Roads Productions while on the road,”
Crocker-Griggs told O&P Business News. “We bring the
store, including a variety of brands of shoes and accessories.”
Known for ‘service and fit’
Laurie’s has been in business since 1951. The company debuted Shoe
Roads Productions in 2006.
Crocker-Griggs and other staffers bring truckloads of shoes and
shoe-related products to medical centers, large and small, throughout the
Two trucks are packed with hundreds of pairs of shoes. The footwear is
stacked onto wheeled metal racks that are rolled into hospitals.
“We set up in lobbies, hallways or in a designated room that the
hospital provides,” Crocker-Griggs said.
Laurie’s is famous for service and fit, and Shoe Roads Productions
is no exception.
“We take Brannock Devices, a portable laptop computer for foot
analysis and other fitting tools,” Crocker-Griggs said. “I provide
the fitting expertise. We try to spend as much time with customers in each
hospital as we would in our St. Louis stores.”
|Crocker-Griggs and her colleagues
visit about 80 hospitals per year and sell footwear designed for people who
spend most of the day on their feet.
The teams call at about 80 hospitals a year — a number that is
growing. “It can get pretty crazy at times with people lined up to see
us,” Crocker-Griggs said.
The teams dispense stylish but easy-on-the-feet footwear for doctors,
nurses and other hospital staffers. “They are designed for people who
spend most of their work days on their feet,” Crocker-Griggs said.
“We carry a wide variety of styles and brands of shoes. At our shows, the
selection is similar to that which we carry in our brick-and-mortar store
locations, but we do offer some items specific to our hospital business.”
Setting up the shows
There is no typical hospital show, Crocker-Griggs said. “They can
vary from 1 to 4 days at a time. We arrive as early as 5 a.m. and stay as late
as midnight, depending on the show. There has even been the rare occasion where
we have opened back up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.”
For each show, the hospital furnishes the sales area, tables and chairs.
“But we do everything else,” Crocker-Griggs said. “We
bring the merchandise, unload the truck, set up a shoe store and stock room,
and then we sell. At the end of the show, we reload the truck, which normally
does not take quite as long as unloading, and either head on home or to the
The Shoe Roads schedule is planned as far in advance as possible. Routes
are carefully mapped out to maximize the number of hospitals the teams can
visit on a trip. “We try to book shows so we can come back the same time
each year,” she said.
Well before sale dates, hospitals advertise when Shoe Roads Productions
will hit town.
But customers cannot book appointments.
“It is first come, first served,” Crocker-Griggs said.
“Of course, we try to see as many people as possible. When we become busy,
other team members help me sell. We work as a team. I am there to make sure the
customers are fitted properly, while others work the register, order
merchandise, schedule shows, etc. We truly are a shoe store on wheels.”
Serving local communities
Crocker-Griggs and her crew also fit people from the community where the
hospital is located.
“Many of the small towns that we visit do not have any place to buy
shoes other than a Wal-Mart, where obviously it is completely self-serve,”
she said. “So people from outside the hospital are always welcome, and
they are glad to see us.”
Shoe Roads Productions has also allowed Crocker-Griggs to make a
difference in some customers’ lives.
|Crocker-Griggs (right) talks
about foot-friendly shoes with Gale Burton of the radiology department at St.
Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, Mo.
“We were in a small town in rural Illinois, when a woman hobbled in
to see us. She could hardly walk and was, in fact, using a walker,” she
said. “I treated her as I would any customer. I watched her gait and
stride as she came into the room. I observed extreme eversion. I then measured
both feet. I discussed the challenges that she was enduring. I advised her and
fitted her properly in shoes that not only made it possible for her to walk
without the walker, but helped alleviate much of her discomfort. She now
attends our show every time we are in town.”
Crocker-Griggs said flexibility is the most important requirement for
her job as a traveling pedorthist. “Every day presents its own challenges,
whether it is moving stock, taking care of customers who specifically come to
see me to be fitted and giving them the time and patience that they deserve, or
waiting on multiple customers at a time,” she said. “I truly enjoy
the variety that my unique career allows. One day is never like the next.”
Only once have the teams been kept from their appointed rounds.
“We were near Rolla, Mo., on the way to Kansas, when we had four
flat tires on the trailer,” Crocker-Griggs said. “Luckily, another
motorist called our attention to the fact that something was wrong, so we
pulled over at the next exit. We were delayed for 2 hours, but thankfully no
one was injured and our stock was undamaged.”
She added with a smile, “The people at the hospital were concerned.
They were ready to shop for shoes.”