Where do you live?
I live in South Miami.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
I’ve been here 42 years. I’m from Indiana. My dad started our shoe store in 1973 and I moved here to manage the store.
Tell us a little bit about the store, about what keeps you busy during the week.
FootWorks is open seven days a week, and I work most days. I think it’s customer service and getting people in the proper shoe to be comfortable for walking, exercising – not just running. We also have a race management company, called Team FootWorks.
Over the last 40 years, how has the shoe business changed?
I would say that now we do about half the business we used to do because of the Internet. Retail is tough nowadays because everybody has so many options. It takes us about a half hour or so to find the right shoe. Then people go on their phones looking for what other colors are available. We may have three colors in stock, but they want a fourth and they will buy it online.
How have you adapted?
We have less employees. I work a lot but I love it. So, it suits me just fine.
What do you love most about it?
I love meeting the customers and developing relationships. Many of these people we’ve known for 40 years. Now, their grand kids are coming into the store.
What is the shoe fitting process like?
We ask what they are going to be doing. A lot of people do multiple things – they go the gym, they run on the road – they bike. If it’s for running, we’ll usually put them in a neutral shoe and put them on the treadmill and videotape them and do a gait analysis. That tells us where they need more support. And then we find something we think might be the perfect shoe for them.
How has shoe technology changed over the years?
That’s an interesting thing because when my dad came down here he started with Earth Shoes. He was 56 at the time, an old-fashioned conservative, he hated the winters in Minnesota and he had gotten a pair of shoes that cured his back pain and they were invented by a famous yoga teacher. He got the franchise for Dade and Broward County.
The heel was lower than the ball of the foot. Over the years it’s gone back towards that. Cushioning has come back down over the years – less heel, flatter and lower to the ground. It’s kind of been revolutionary with this whole barefoot running trend. It’s just trying to get people to land on the ball of their foot. It’s made a big difference for a lot of people in their running style and preventing injury.
What is the running organization you mentioned?
My husband and I started the Miami Runners Club, 40 years ago, in our living room. It evolved into our nonprofit organization called Team FootWorks. We’re able to donate about $160,000 a year to charity.
We have training programs for the marathon and half marathon and even have one-on-one training to go from the couch to a 5K. We train 500 people a year. On Saturday mornings, 200 people may show up at the store. They’ll come to meet their groups and then come into the store afterwards. Sometimes we’ll have food and drinks, and sometimes they just go to lunch with their groups. I think it’s really one of the reasons we’re still here – we are part of the community.
Do your kids work with you?
My middle son, JP, manages the store. When my husband died in his sleep, three and a half years ago of a heart attack, my youngest son, who’s a chef, came to help. Since Hans passed, I have been so grateful to have the business because the store is really a family and they are the village that has helped take care of me and my kids.
How often do you come to the Pinecrest market?
If I can’t get there, I send my secretary, Carol.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand?
We get your tonic for about eight different people. I’ve also gotten the Rainbow smoothie.
Wow, so nice. What have you found with using the tonic?
My new thing has been working out in the gym, like 10 classes a week and I’ve been able to do it and not get sick and not be sore. I think that’s what the turmeric’s doing.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at other stands at the market?
Usually I don’t have much time, so I just come to you. Last week, I went to the vegan stand and got some delicious stuff that I’ve been eating all week.
What are your favorite local restaurants?
I prefer to just get something and bring it to my house. I’m with people all day long, having conversations, and I love going home to be by myself at night. When I do go out – I like Miyako. I get the Yaki Soba or Udon.
What do you think Miami’s best kept secret?
We have a wonderful community here in South Miami. I think Miami’s got everything you need. We’re able to be outside as much as we can, and we have a wonderful diversity of people.
What is a worthy splurge to you?
I’m 68 and enjoying my new-found experience at the gym – which has changed my life, even though I’ve always been active. I just want to keep it simple. I really love being at my house and at the store – that’s what makes me happy.
Would you share a pitch about FootWorks?
We will give you the time and we have the expertise and we will make sure that you are 100% satisfied. We understand it takes some effort to park, we assure you that it’s worth the effort.
Which philanthropic groups do you support through Team FootWorks or others you would like to share?
We do a lot with the United Way, with the Susan G Komen Foundation, McLamore Foundation for scholarships. We support many groups that are listed on our website.
Also, you can drop off your old shoes at the store. For years we have collected used shoes. We have three different churches that we donate them to. They go to the homeless and those in need.