A Main Street Shoe Story

Photo of Burkhartzmeyer Shoes in Faribault, MNThis is a more personal story than I typically share here, but isn’t that what blogs are for?
This is a story about excellent customer service, shoes that don’t hurt, and keeping Main Street relevant for today’s forgetful customer.

Why Shoes

My light-weight summer shoes were getting frayed and quite chilly as the temperature dropped and my pair from last year had holes in the soles.
Preserve Minnesota was last week in Faribault which is home to Burkhartzmeyer Shoes. I have been telling my co-workers and almost everyone I met at the conference about my plan to purchase a new pair of shoes there during the conference.

Bruce, the owner of the store is on Faribault Main Street’s board and is a great guy, but I hadn’t purchased shoes from their store. To solidify the case in their favor, a few months ago I heard from my realtor that it’s the only place he buys his shoes. And he has nice shoes.

The Crisis Arises

That day, I stop by “The Coffee Shop,” (real name of the place, it has great coffee) and realize that not only do I not have any cash, I don’t have my wallet. Before leaving home that morning I had written an emergency hockey check and didn’t put it back in my bag.

So what to do.  Nixing the coffee, I decide that I want new shoes from Burkhartzmeyer’s enough to admit my error to do so.

I walk on down to Burkhartzmeyer and propose that they can ship me my shoes after I mail them a check.  This is fine (whew!), so we start the shoe shopping. I browse for a bit, the nice clerk points out brands which are on sale for the fall. After I select two pairs to try on she carefully measures my feet (8.5 narrow) and uses a shoe horn to help me slip on the shoes.

One pair is the clear winner and when I’m at the counter she tells me that I can take the shoes with me and just mail them the check – that’s what they’d do if I’d phoned in my shoe order. How nice is that!  I leave the store with shoes, and invoice, in hand.

Moral of the Story

Shopping on Main Street is always a unique experience.  It has the possibility for customer service so above and beyond what a person’s used to that they’re inspired to write about it in a historic preservation blog.  Would I have been able to do this at a Payless? An outlet store? No.  The owners of Burkhartzmeyer know their customers and have been operating the shoe store for generations.  They are proudly located on Central Avenue in Faribault’s historic downtown and Main Street district.

Faribault is one of five Designated Main Street Communities through Minnesota Main Street. Minnesota Main Street has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

The anti-disclaimer: I was not paid to write this nor did I receive discounted shoes for this piece.  In fact, I don’t think Bruce knows I’m writing it.

Emily Northey
Minnesota Main Street Program Coordinator

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