It’s Anything but Business as Usual for Shoe Stores in the Wake of Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence may have finally died down, but it’s hardly business as usual for shoe stores in the path of the storm. While the rains have subsided, areas are still bracing for record flooding from dams and rivers.

Larry Koonce, owner of John Allen Shoes in Fayetteville, N.C., located in the city’s suburbs, said while the store did not suffer any damage and has remained open, traffic was down. “People are weary and afraid,” he said about coming out to shop. He noted that shoes were not likely topping their shopping lists, having already spent money on supplies in preparation for the storm.

Coastal Sole in New Bern, N.C., also avoided any damage. However, said owner Todd Whisnant, today was the first time since Sept. 11 it was open. “We just came in today to help straighten up and get things going again. We are going to stay open a couple of hours today, but I don’t foresee us doing any business for the next week.”

According to Whisnant, while the weather was beautiful today, he was not planning to officially reopen until next week. He said he did not expect locals to be shoe shopping. ‘They’re looking to get food and gas, the basics,” he said. “There are still people under water, and the creeks are still rising and still have a lot of floods.”

At Shoe Show in Elizabethtown, N.C., the store had opened briefly on Saturday, according to a sales associate, allowing linemen to buy boots to help with relief efforts. It officially reopened for the first time today and will remain open for the full business day. Store traffic was light as anticipated, noted the associate.

Dick’s Sporting Goods in Jacksonville, N.C., was among the retailers in the city closed due to inclement weather, according to a store recording today. However, Greg’s Uniforms and Professional Shoes, also in Jacksonville, which sells both footwear and apparel for the medical community, opened its doors briefly yesterday and was open again today.

According to store manager Irene Morales, the store did not suffer any structural damage due to the hurricane. While Morales said locals were getting back to their daily routines, she expected traffic to be light.

In Wilmington, N.C., hit hard by Florence, shoe stores did not respond to calls, including both chains and independents — among them Cape Fear Footwear, Coastal Kicks, Shoe Carnival and Fleet Feet.

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