April 14, 2024
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Englewood Bootery: Lisa Katz Knows Shoes, Customers

Giving children shoes that fit is an art, not a science, says Lisa Katz, owner of Englewood Bootery. Katz knows shoes and makes it her business to know her customers. Comfort is their number one priority.

A good fit starts with establishing a rapport with her customers. “It’s important that parents and children have confidence in us,” Katz says, and she tries to encourage that by approaching every customer with a smile. “The store is warm, bright, and cheerful. We’re happy to see everyone who walks in.” Katz; Melissa Pact, Assistant Manager; and Donna Spence and Denise Kalsky, Sales Associates; give individual attention to all customers, and are especially sensitive to special needs children and their parents, to make the fitting process as stress-free as possible.

There is more to fit than size, Katz explains. “Some shoes run wide, others narrow. Some brands fit better on a particular kind of foot. We have to know what’s good for a child who needs support. ”

And the definition of comfort changes with each person. Some kids like their shoes big and some like them tight. Parents may want shoes that will last for a while or want shoes that fit perfectly right now. “It makes a difference knowing what the parent and the child want. And we have to analyze the situation and figure it out quickly.”

Lisa Katz grew up in the shoe business. Her father worked in shoe sales before buying his own store in Union City. She helped with all the tasks that had to be done in a small retail store—customer service, inventory, vacuuming. By the time she was an adult, her father had acquired the Closter Bootery, a family shoe store he purchased with three other partners. She helped part time while working in the Macy’s buyer-training program. Then she started on the path that led to where she is today. In 1993, she took over her father’s share in Closter Bootery. By the year 2000 she had bought out the other partners. The store was hers.

In 2007 she purchased her second store, in Ridgewood, and began to focus on children’s shoes. “I’m always moving forward, looking for the next challenge,” Katz said. This was the opportunity I had been looking for.”

In 2012, another opportunity knocked and she answered. Englewood Bootery opened at 44 North Dean Street in March of 2013.

While her core merchandise is the same for all three stores, each one has a different personality. Dress shoes are more in demand at Englewood Bootery, where Orthodox Jewish families shop for children’s Shabbos and Yom Tov footwear. The biggest trend she sees in all her stores is that parents want kids’ shoes that can do double duty—dress shoes that can be worn to school, sandals that can get wet.

Katz’s two children help out in the store when they can, but at the moment, neither is headed into a retail career. Her son is a freshman in college, studying to be a physical therapist. Her daughter, a high school freshman, is a dancer and spends hours in the studio.

Katz’s father is proud of his daughter although he worries that she works too hard. But she loves the synergies created by having three stores. “If an item is selling better in one store, I can move things around. Of course, if I get it wrong, I have three times the amount. But I’ve been pretty good. I don’t end up with a lot of mistakes.”

By Bracha Schwartz

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