SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –The increase in online shopping has been a tough hit to small business owners for years. That combined with the supply chain challenges that came about during the pandemic has led to many stores closing their doors.
“Are you looking for some new shoes today?” Stride Rite Sioux Falls owner Tami said.
She’s the friendly face that has helped fit countless kids in their favorite new pair of shoes, throughout their entire childhood.
“I’ve always loved Stride Rite. When I was growing up it was always fun to come here and get my shoes, come see Tami of course, then she’d fit my feet and get me the fastest shoes,” Stride Rite customer and now employee Aubrey Post said.
“Ready to try on some shoes?” Tami said to one customer. “You go test them out, see what you think.”
It’s the personal touch that has kept many families coming back to Stride Rite to see Tami for the past 35 years.
“I have actually gotten to see first-generation, second-generations and third-generations in the store,” Tamie said.
It’s a job she’s loved all her life, starting out as an employee and even more the last 23 years she has owned the store on Carolyn Avenue.
“All of my love and my heart will not pay bills,” Tami said.
She says the increase in online shopping has been cutting away at her business for years.
“They’re slashing their prices down below even our cost, for shoes that would cost me x amount of dollars, they’re selling it for half price. Hard to compete with that,” Tami said.
But she says the greatest challenges came after covid as the cost of shipping and overall supply chain disruptions just keep getting worse.
“Not being able to get product is really tough. It’s kind of hard to have a shoe store when you have no shoes,” Tami said.
So while she has no desire to stop serving her customers, last week she posted on Facebook that the numbers just no longer make sense to stay open.
“Last year was so tough on me, not only emotionally but definitely financially,” Tami said.
The messages of support and thanks have been coming in from loyal customers all week. People who are sad to see this store and this service leave Sioux Falls.
“The service is gone, but not only the service, the love. You can absolutely know when you walk in my door that I do this because I love what I do,” Tami said.
Her Stride Rite Sioux Falls Facebook page is filled with hundreds of messages from customers who are sad to see her go, many especially missing her service and experience with helping kids find the right shoe size and fit.
Inventory allowing, the Stride Rite store hopes to be open for customers through the end of March.