A Sole Provisions History by Owner Holden Nagelberg
I first got into the shoe business in 1991 while attending graduate school for music education in Queens, NY. I needed a part time job that would work with my busy class and student teaching schedule, and there was an ad for part time work in a local orthopedic shoe store posted outside the student employment office. At the time I saw myself more as a rockstar rather than a shoe salesman, but “flexible hours” was all I needed to see to be interested!
I applied and got hired, and soon realized how fortunate I was to be working for a great family that had spent three generations in the orthopedic shoe business. They treated me like one of their own, and I was exposed to a wealth of information about foot problems, footwear, and custom orthotics. I liked the job and environment so much that when I finished my teaching certification and was ready to fill a position in a local middle school, I accepted a job to become their store manager instead.
I soon became very aware that an increasing number of younger women were visiting the store, but usually left without purchasing anything, claiming that the shoes were just too ugly. They loved the way they felt, but once they got in front of a mirror, it was all over. I suddenly realized that this generation of women spent their entire school life, from nursery school through graduating college, wearing some form of comfy sneaker, and now that they needed to wear grown-up shoes for the working world, their feet were killing them!
I started doing research, and learned of a footwear phenomenon. There were many European brands that were concentrating on making fashionable shoes with excellent comfort features, because a woman in Europe is much more likely to walk from place to place than her American contemporaries. I decided that there was a huge unfulfilled demand here for this type of product, and decided to open my first store concentrating on fashion comfort footwear.
My employers generously agreed to co-sign a business loan for me, and after a year of planning, I opened Sole Provisions in the village of Huntington, New York in August of 1997. I had my first child Marin only two weeks before our grand opening, and here is a picture of me standing with her in front of the cash register during our grand opening.
When I first opened, it was hard locating high quality product that was both fashionable and had great comfort features, but within a few years I saw more and more brands making shoes that fit into this category. By 2002 there were more brands available than I could possibly carry, and our business was booming!
Me and my first daughter Marin at our first store.
At around that time, I became increasingly aware of the concept of shopping on the internet, but I was afraid that selling the kind of footwear we were carrying wouldn't translate well to online shopping. I had an informational website for my store and the products we carried, but up until that point, I never gave my customers the ability to buy online.
It didn't take long for me to realize that my customers were already buying footwear online, just not from Sole Provisions! Finally in 2007, we launched our first e-commerce website. Not only were our customers thrilled to be able to buy from us online, but we started developing a national following of loyal customers that love our service and selection.
The storefront in Huntington NY.
Since then Sole Provisions has grown to feature thousands of products including footwear from some of the world’s best comfort brands, and we’re adding new items every season. Our commitment to customer service has only gotten stronger, and we are thrilled to be recipients of the Bizrate Platinum Circle Of Excellence award for outstanding customer service the last three years running.
Our family of employees managing our online business has grown from me alone to a staff of 10, and although we’re still small in the world of giant online retailers, our commitment to excellence has created an online shopping experience that is huge! We hope you are already a member of our community of loyal customers, and if you’re not, we’ll do everything we can to encourage you to join us.
The Staff at Sole Provisions