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The Face of Connection: Shandi Schwartz

Sure, women first come into Strut Footwear for phenomenal shoes, boots and accessories.

But, they keep coming back for the way a visit to the store makes them feel.

"Everyone knows we're a shoe store," says owner Shandi Schwartz with a laugh.

"But really, this business is all about connecting with women and making them feel great. Obviously, we want women to remember they purchased high-quality, sophisticated, fashion-forward and comfortable footwear here. But we also want them to remember the incredible connection we made with them."

Shandi leads this charge because she's the owner and Strut is her passion project.

After all, she started Strut in 2017 with no retail experience after a 22-year career as a high school counsellor.

Her dream was to open a shoe store and she followed that dream.

She also has help from the seven incredible women who work at the store.

"Mags, Mary Lou, Debbie, Ginny, Rhonda, Ginny, Paula and Colleen really are the most amazing team of women," says Shandi.

"They are doing this as a second career because they love it. We've become friends and care about one another. And in the store, it's all about team spirit and a team approach. We don't work on commission, we work in tandem to make sure every woman who shops here looks and feels her very best."

The key to that is listening to what customers want and need.

That could be dress shoes, dressy boots or cute, casual supportive shoes that bring together fashion and comfort.

And it could be any of the European brands that Strut carries to make it Kelowna's premier women's shoe store -- Wonders, Hispanitas, Toni Pons, Bueno, MJUS, Ateliers and Gadea.

Shandi knows she's got it right when she not only connects with a customer, but she helps two customers in the store at the same time connect over conversations about shoes, work, hiking, hair or kids.

She also knows Strut is doing its job when a loyal customer brings her friends in to discover the store or groups of customers make Strut their rendezvous point for a bit of retail therapy before they go out for lunch or a drink.

Strut also has out-of-town customers who make the store their first stop when they come to Kelowna for work or visit friends and relatives.

Strut doesn't have one typical customer.

It serves not only the professional, working woman who needs and wants fashionable and comfortable dress shoes, but women, young and old, who want and need the quality array of casual and dress shoes the store stocks.

Strut is also community-minded and in keeping with Shandi's background in education the store supports the Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society.

"We ask customers if they want to round their purchase up to the nearest dollar," says Shandi.

"We have raised nearly $14,000 for COBSS bursaries."

Strut is in the Mission Park Shopping Centre or shop online at StrutFootwear.com.



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