Published 12:34 pm Monday, January 31, 2022
For over 5 decades, shoe store offers variety, service
Story Del Duduit | Photography Rachael Layne
Through all the years and all the financial ups and downs, along with a global pandemic, Scioto Shoe Mart keeps on kicking.
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Last year, according to the Washington Post, more than 100,000 small businesses throughout the nation closed for good, mainly due to COVID-19.
But not Scioto Shoe Mart, which has locations in Sciotoville, Chillicothe and Marion.
“We’ve been really busy,” said co-owner Sheila Evans. “It had to be through prayer and our faith that we got through last year. Countless stores have shut their doors, but we have not. We thought about adding a location but have decided to put that on hold for now.”
One of the many reasons the store has stayed open and been successful over the past 55 years is that customers keep coming back.
“That’s because they know they will be treated right,” Evans said. “I bet I know 90 percent of the people who come through the doors. We know what they like, and we provide that for them.”
Evans and her husband, Scott, co-manage the store, which was originally opened by her parents, Thomas and Delores Selbee, over five decades ago.
“They still come in and out and visit with everyone,” she added. “They know most of the customers, too.”
All her siblings co-manage and co-own the stores.
“It’s a family thing,” Evans said. “I started working here when I was 16.”
The independent shoe store carries high quality shoes that customers have come to know and appreciate. It also has accessories such as sunglasses, handbags and some clothing.
“We like to hand-pick the brands we carry because we know our customer base,” she said. “What sells in another part of the country might not go here. We know that.”
The customer will also feel the personal touch when they enter any of the three locations.
“I think one big difference is that we are actually in the store and can react faster than the big box stores and chains,” she added. “We are hands on and interact with our customers. If there is an issue, we can get it resolved faster than the chains or box stores.”
Two times a year, Evans said she travels to shows and buys products to sell a year out in advance. That way she keeps on top of trends and fashion, which always comes back into play.
“Bell bottoms and platform shoes are going to make a come-back, believe it or not,” Evans said. “And we will have the shoes because some of our customers will want them. Some of the shoe styles that I wore in my 30s are also coming back.”
High quality is the main priority for the store and another reason the doors stay open.
“We will only sell the higher-quality branded shoes here,” she added. “We do not want to carry shoes that you can find anywhere in any store. That’s what makes us different than a department store or a big box store.”
Scioto Shoe Mart is also known for its working shoes, particularly men’s work boots. The selection is plentiful, and the bands are top notch.
“We carry what men really need to work in around here,” Evans said. “We see a lot of male customers everyday and most of them are looking for boots for work or hunting.”
The store also has a complete line of men’s professional and casual shoes, while the women’s and children’s selections are also large.
“Every occasion is here,” Evans said. “Work, play, formal, casual, athletic is all here.”
When a newcomer enters the store, they can expect to find a wide variety of shoes and other items and can also count on trained shoe specialists.
“It takes a new employee of ours at least six months to understand everything because there is lot to learn,” she said. “We will let you shop, but we will also offer some expertise and measure your foot to make sure you get the right fit.”
Customers keep coming back to Scioto Shoe Mart because they like what they buy and how they are treated. It’s that simple.
“People stay with what works,” Evans said. “We carry the core brands — the ones that are tried and true — but we also mix up some of the trends. I guarantee that most people who come through the doors will find what they are looking for.”