TENNERTON — Customers strolled into Buckhannon’s newest shoe store Thursday some after lining up at 7 a.m.
Following a scheduled ribbon cutting with the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce at 9 a.m., the doors to Shoe Sensation in Skyline Plaza were opened to the community.
Dave Schoengart, senior vice president, surveyed the line of customers pouring into the business from the parking lot and said Buckhannon was a perfect fit.
“We fit well in small towns,” he said. “We hire local staff and we really get involved in the local community.
“We let the store team operate their business as if it had their name on the sign,” he said. “Even though we are a chain, you will see a dramatic difference in how we operate our business and someone else.
“We like the small communities,” Schoengart said. “This is a great little college town and it seems the population has stabilized. This is a perfect town for a Shoe Sensation.”
Shoe Sensation will employ about a dozen people, two to three full-time and the remainder part-time.
“There are three areas of our business that are really important to us,” he said. “We actively look for charity partners and particularly charities that deal with children. We partner with charities in many towns — getting kids school shoes, Angel Trees, really trying to work with those charities.”
Second, Shoe Sensation is focused on work and safety with its shoe selection.
“We partner with businesses that have needs for work and safety shoes and we meet the requirements that they have specifically for their business and we stock the shoes here in our store so they are not having to drive for work and safety shoes,” he said. “We will hold fittings and we will do the accounting for vouchers and things like that.”
The third area that Shoe Sensation is focused on is team sports.
“We are a full-service shoe store with 12,000 pairs of shoes,” he said. “We really have a strong desire to be involved in the community. We are chamber members.”
Daniele Hoffmaster, store manager, said, “We are a corporate run business but we like to be a small-town, family, community shoe store. We carry a lot of different brands. We have name brands like Under Armour, Nike. We have Clarks and I know that is hard to find in this area.
“Our main focus is our customers,” she said. “We want you to walk out of our store with a good, comfortable shoe.”
Janice Streets, of Buckhannon, exited Shoe Sensation with a shopping bag in hand and said she was glad to have more selection in town to shop from.
“This one is easier to get to,” she said.
Hoffmaster said even though the store had a soft opening last week, she was surprised to see so many people out for the official grand opening.
“I had one lady tell me that she was here since 7 a.m. this morning,” she said. “I was excited to see the turn-out.”
The grand opening featured a free gift for the first 100 customers and the chance to win free shoes for the family.
Shoe Sensation is currently offering a Fila brand sale and shoe cleaner sale, Hoffmaster added.
“Our kids clearance is 50 percent off,” she said. “We always have sales going on in our store even if it is not our Fila focus; there are always sales happening.”
Shoe Sensation is located at 80 Skyline Plaza Drive, next to Ace Hardware.