Better service, better quality the secret to 75 years of success.
Step inside the door of Smiths Shoes and you’re stepping into the world of yesteryear, to a time when customer service was king, and quality above all else was the standard. At Smiths Shoes, the secret to their 75 years of longevity isn’t complicated, it’s about promoting the fundamentals of business acumen: a friendly smile, excellent customer service, and quality products.
Operating in downtown Smiths Falls for more than seven decades, Smiths Shoes is more than just a local footwear resource, and draws customers from as far away as Deep River to Prescott, Kingston, Perth, Carleton Place, Ottawa, and beyond.
The story began in 1944 when Bill Smith purchased Barr’s Shoe Store and renamed it “Smith’s Shoes,” a name which still stands for quality service and fit to this day. In 1968, Bill Smith’s daughter and her husband, Joan and Ray Blair, purchased the store from Smith, and carried the family torch with great success for 26 years. In 1994, Ralph Heron purchased the store, which was then sold to current owner, Cyril Wells in 2006.
“Customers are everything. I understand that without that door swinging, we don’t need to be here,” Wells said. “If it takes 15 minutes or two hours to look after a customer, that’s how long it takes.”
According to Wells, some of the younger generations may not know what it’s like to receive the kind of service you can expect at Smiths Shoes, but those in their 40s or 50s remember well the days when you walked in a store and were served to your satisfaction, where someone looked after you throughout the process, from start to finish.
When Wells took over Smiths Shoes in 2006, he was taking on more than a business, he was taking on a customer relationship reminiscent of what you would find in a doctor’s office. At Smiths Shoes, each customer’s information is as individualized as a footprint and recorded and filed to provide the very best in customer service.
“Customers are everything. I understand that without that door swinging, we don’t need to be here.”
“When I got here 22 years ago, the filing system was in a shoe box,” Wells said, laughingly acknowledging the irony of using a shoe box in a shoe store. “We need a filing system, that’s how we keep in touch with our customers.”
Today, Smiths Shoes employs four full-time staff and one part-time staff, and carries footwear for women between sizes 4 and 12, and for men between sizes 7 and 14 or 15. Custom fitted, off-the-shelf orthotics is another stock item for the shoe store, and Wells explained they receive referrals from medical professionals which is another sign of the quality products they offer their customers.
“My dad told me a long time ago, I don’t care what you do, but make sure whatever you do, you love doing it,” Wells said, “It’s fun here, it’s always been fun for me. I love what I do, and every day is exciting and challenging.”