Imagine that, instead of a clinical setting, a person could sit at home and feel comfortable while having a trained professional help with a complex, poorly understood, but all too real problem with their feet. That’s the idea behind The Shoe Fits, located just north of downtown Indianapolis, IN. A desire to combine the comfort of home with the care of professionals is what made Sheryl McCain, CPed, build her store to look and feel like a living room.
McCain, who has been selling shoes since she was in high school, still remembers how observing the orthotic fabrication and fitting process inspired her to take her career to the next level.
“I’d never seen anything like what I saw,” she recalled. “This guy was cooking things up, pushing them into shoes, and making people better!”
That drive pushed McCain to get her certification in pedorthics and to open her own shop after just a few years. She wanted the space to feel comfortable and not overwhelming.
Much of McCain’s business is built on education.
“I get most of my business as referrals, usually physicians, so these [customers] are people that have new problems or have finally gone to their doctors for help. I get involved and try to help them as much as I can. They know that shoes today are mostly about fashion or whatever new technology the marketing guys dreamed up that day,” she said, laughing. “I need to help them understand what I’m doing and what proper shoes and orthotics can really do for them.”
One footwear trend McCain hasn’t embraced is minimalist shoes.
“Minimalist shoes are just a fad, just a buzzword,” she said. “You can sprint in light shoes or maybe run a quick race, but your feet are your foundation, and if it’s not solid, there will be bigger problems.”
“An over-the-counter solution might be fine for fatigue, but it’s not good for any real problem,” she said. “Everything is individualized when it comes to real problems.”
McCain enjoys tackling those problems head-on. She recounted one recent situation in which she was able to offer almost immediate relief to a customer.
“An eighty-three-year-old woman came in with her family. She was diabetic and had been in the hospital. She’d been lying in bed and off her feet, then the circulation problems started,” she said. “Her feet were discolored, and before I could do anything [with regard to footwear], I just worked on them a bit. A bit of rubbing and you could see the color come back to normal and the change in her face.”
The Shoe Fits is built on referrals, both from physicians and from customers. McCain prides herself and her employees—in particular Andrew Howard, CPed, who has been part of the business for a year and a half—on their ability to not only offer solutions, but also a feeling of stability and comfort that goes beyond the shoes. In a world that often forgets the customer service when it gets close to the medical, her touch is unique, as is her store.
Will Carroll is a writer in Indianapolis, IN.