When the Shoe Fits Finds its Niche in the Northwest

When the Shoe Fits Salmon Creek

Amy and Alan O’Hara met three decades ago while working in the shoe business. They married and decided to put their wholesale and retail shoe experience to good use by opening their own full-service, high-end comfort shoe store in Clark County. When The Shoe Fits opened in 2004 in the Fisher’s Landing area of east Vancouver and today, there are four locations – three in Vancouver and one in Beaverton. Now employing between 18 and 21 employees at any given time, When The Shoe Fits has seen year-over-year increases in both volume and profit, with the exception of the pandemic years. They also have sales per square foot that is well above the industry average.

Alan is a pedorthist, who is trained in the manufacturing and modification of shoe inserts and orthotics, as well as the modification of footwear. They are also able to fill podiatrist prescriptions for certain shoe inserts and orthotics.

“Foot health is necessary for a happy day – we can help,” said Amy.

O’Hara credits the company’s incredible staff for the growth of its positive reputation over the years and she says that their expertise is what makes them stand out.

“It’s the knowledge, training, and experience in footwear and the foot itself by all employees,” she said. “We are highly regarded in the industry as have the best staff for miles, if not on the entire West coast.”

Inside When the Shoe Fits

She explains that their employee-centric approach is also special. Many of their employees are long-term, investing many years of their career to When The Shoe Fits. The company offers full benefits, including health insurance, retirement, and ample paid time off.

“We do this because we feel it the morally responsible thing to do but also because it is pragmatic in that we have nearly no turnover and (hopefully) happy employees,” Amy said. “Turn-over and/or a disgruntled employee costs business owners far more than they realize.”

This year, the company was recognized with the Small Business Award at the 2023 Business and Leadership Awards, presented by Riverview Bank, which honors the company’s remarkable growth and dedication to superior service.

“Most of the time we do what we do quietly but recognition sure feels good once in a while,” Amy shared. “The really great part is how thrilled our staff was. We remind them constantly that THEY are the business and things like this happen because they are amazing. In fact, I ordered four more trophies so each of the locations can have one of their own. We really have the best people.”

Looking ahead, When The Shoe Fits is stocked with the fall and winter styles, especially HOKA which is one of the hottest brands right now in the comfort category.

Amy said, “We’re so grateful and humbled to have had success…it’s really important to give everything back to the community that we possibly can.”

Brooke Strickland
A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Strickland is a full-time freelance writer that specializes in writing blogs, website content, and business news for companies & publications around the country. She is also the co-author of Hooked on Games, a book about technology and video game addiction.

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