Marci and Randy Halliday had been visiting Creston on and off for 25 years before moving here around Thanksgiving 2013 — and that’s when they realized what the town was missing.
“We couldn’t buy a pair of winter boots here last winter,” said Marci.
With that, the idea of starting a shoe store was born, and they started looking at franchises, eventually signing on with Pop Shoes. Creston’s store is now the only Pop in Western Canada, with over 80 others in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
“Once we decided that was who we were going with, we had to go out there,” Marci said.
Pop Shoes is a banner of Côté-Reco Inc., a Quebec-based company that has been in the shoe business for over 75 years. Their visit for training allowed them to visit a few stores, which made it obvious theirs would be a bit different to other Pop stores.
“We are the smallest Pop Shoes,” said Marci.
“Their stores out there are about 5,000 square feet,” said Randy.
Located at 1128 Canyon St. — next door to Activity Base, the location of a former longtime shoe store, Glenn’s Village Bootery — Creston’s is considerably smaller. But it isn’t lacking stock, as customers saw when the shop opened last April.
“We opened with 6,300 pairs of shoes,” said Randy.
Shoe sizes start with toddlers and go as high as size 15 runners. And the selection hasn’t gone unnoticed, with customers coming from Nelson, Cranbrook and Trail — and even some from farther away.
“The other day we had people from Portland,” said Marci.
“I was surprised when they bought five pairs of boots,” added Randy.
In addition to a half-dozen house brands, as well as better-known name brands, shoe polish and purses — but no laces, as many of their shoes come with a second pair — Pop Shoes can also order via catalogue from some other Cote-Reco franchises, which offer hunting, fishing and sporting goods.
Pop Shoes marks the second time that Marci and Randy have been in business together, having previously moved from Alberta to Manitoba to run a hotel.
“We wanted to do something together instead of getting up in the morning and going our own way,” said Marci. “So we sold everything and bought a hotel.”
After five years in the hotel business, the couple moved to Creston to enjoy the climate and be closer to their friends.
After nearly a year with Pop Shoes, they’ve found their store has become quite popular in the community, and trends have come and gone with each season. Ladies’ fashion boots were quite a big seller recently, but that changed when winter hit.
“As soon as the first cold snap, it wasn’t fashion boots, it was warmth,” said Marci.
Those are the sort of trends that have to be anticipated well ahead of time. All footwear is ordered 10 or 11 months in advance — which is why, for example, when the winter boot selection is dwindling, they can’t simply order in more.
But the owners are always happy to help out customers when they can.
“If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask us,” said Marci. “You never know — we might be able to get it in.”