After seeing foot traffic dip this past year throughout the pandemic, independent shoe stores in New York City are getting an unexpected sales boost from Mother Nature.
A major winter storm is pounding the Northeast today and is expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow in certain areas. New York City, which is preparing to receive 12-18 inches of snow with near-blizzard conditions, has already declared a state of emergency that restricts travel on roads to emergency vehicles.
Despite the storm, many shoe stores were open for business today, including Brooklyn retailers Windsor Shoes in Windsor Terrace, Soula Shoes in Carroll Gardens and Good Footing in Park Slope. All told FN they were busy helping shoppers gear up for the weather.
Rick Lee, owner of Soula Shoes, said customer traffic in his stores has been steady since yesterday, mainly fueled by boot shoppers. “People are trying to prepare for the storm. They’ve been looking for snowboots, or anything that will keep them warm and dry,” he said.
Lester Wasserman, owner of Tip Top Shoes and West NYC in Manhattan, told FN it all comes down to being prepared pedestrians. “Historically, snow days are big league money days here. Walking is the No. 1 mode of transportation in New York City, and without a good pair of waterproof boots and warm socks, it’s simply not possible,” he said.
Like Lee, Wasserman said shoppers started flocking in over the weekend to stock up on gear. “The rush began mid-day Saturday and continued to build critical mass through Sunday evening until the close of business,” he said. “Customers were focused solely on waterproof and warm boots.”
And Wasserman predicted that business could even increase once the storm abates, when more neighborhood residents find themselves in need of weather-proof footwear to traverse the piles of snow.