That’s according to Peg Swisher, whose company name, Sole Comfort, pretty much sums it up. It’s not only a retail establishment but one that customizes casual, dress and athletic shoes for customers’ special needs. “We’re a health care business disguised as a shoe store,” said Swisher, a board-certified pedorthist, which makes her an expert in biomechanical evaluation and gait analysis.
Unfortunately, too many of her clients are wearing shoes that aren’t the right fit. Literally. Her pet peeve: “Non-supportive crappy shoes that may look nice but may be hurting you.” Getting someone into the right pair of shoes can mitigate pain and discomfort in the feet, knees and back, said Swisher, whose business partner, Janet Simon, is a podiatrist.
While Sole Comfort has established clients and steady volume, the owners recently took several steps to generate new growth. They expanded staff, brought in new shoe brands and products, and are focusing more on a 10-step evaluation to assess foot health and proper footwear.
The assessments, which cost $75 for a half-hour analysis, are followed by customized treatment that may include fitting pre-made orthotics, designing custom orthotics and ensuring proper fit in the appropriate shoes for clients.
The business, at 11200 Juan Tabo NE, Suite 6, doesn’t accept insurance payments. “It’s all cash and carry,” Swisher said of the business model.
Sole Comfort works directly with many Albuquerque-area providers who send patients. Referring providers include podiatrists, physical therapists, primary care physicians, rheumatologists, orthopaedic surgeons and alternative medicine providers.
“We all share the same vision: to help clients discover the most comfortable shoes and orthotics for their individual needs and to address chronic pain and improve function,” said Swisher.
The expansion is bringing results. The new Sole Comfort team saw a 25 percent increase in business in the past year, Swisher said.
The eyes have it
Perfect Pair Optical Shop is one of Albuquerque’s newest retailers.
Owner Marie Archibeque, who has been in the optical industry for 19 years, said the business is unique in a couple of ways.
Not being part of a chain and not having a prescribing optometrist on staff helps to keep prices lower, said the owner. “However, our lenses are all the same digital quality-branded names and latest technology that you can get at your optometrist but will cost you less here. Another thing that sets us apart is we have not dedicated ourselves to one brand of lenses,” said Archibeque.
Located at 2910 San Mateo NE, Suite 6, the store stocks a variety of glasses, including designer brands like Badgley Mischka, Ray-Ban, Spy Optic, Lucky Brand and Converse. Prices for frames start at $42 and can go up to $320, said Archibeque. “So we really pride ourselves in offering something for everyone.”
Can’t top this
On the culinary front, one need look no further than the humble pizza for world heritage status.
Last week, pizzaiuolo, the art of Neapolitan pizza-making, was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (a real mouthful if there ever was one.)
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) says the designation is meant to safeguard and raise awareness about forms of cultural heritage – often passed down from generation to generation – before they die out.
As for pizzaiuolo, it is more than a slice of sustenance, it is an art form with a deep history baked right in and locals are clamoring for it, said the owner of Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria, which has two stores in Albuquerque.
“The tradition of pizzaiuolo is something we’ve been proud to share with Albuquerque over the last four years,” said Gabriel Amador. “With the support of pizza lovers everywhere, we believe Neapolitan-style pizza has a bright future ahead of it.”
Steve Sinovic is the Journal’s retail reporter. He can be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 505-823-3919.