Otherwides Shoes — a Tempe store that sells only wide and extra-wide shoes for men and women — is making its mark in the Valley.
“Our sales have steadily climbed since we opened five years ago,” said Kim McInally, owner of the store in the Bashas’ Valley Center at 1804 E. Southern Ave.
“Our store — and the wide shoe industry — is gradually catching up with the so-called regular size shoe businesses,” said McInally, whose store filled a gap when a wide shoe chain, Fashion Wide Shoes, closed all three of its Valley branches in 2002.
McInally, who worked as a shoe salesperson for the former chain for 10 years, decided to open her own company, a 4,500-square-foot store at the northeast corner of Southern Avenue and McClintock Drive.
“When Fashion Wide closed, there was a large void in the wide shoe business in the Valley,” said McInally. “I had to make a decision: either find another job or open my own wide shoe store.”
At the time, hers was the first shoe store specializing in wide shoes in the Valley.
Two more stores — Anne’s Wide Shoes — have since opened in Chandler and Glendale, making them and Otherwides Shoes the only three serving wide shoe customers.
“We’ve not only increased our business, but we’ve expanded our shoe selections,” said McInally, who has since added two full-time salespeople and her mother, Anita McInally, who is the store’s secretary treasurer.
Otherwides Shoes has more than 10,000 pairs of wide and extra-wide shoes, mostly women’s and a widevariety of women’s dress shoes. They are made in the United States, Italy and China as well as some other countries.
“About 75 percent of our customers are women and 25 percent are men,” McInally said. “Many of them are recommended to check us out by podiatrists and other medical people and most of the others are walk-ins who have heard about us by word-of-mouth.”
McInally said most people who have wide feet often buy larger shoes to meet their foot size rather than search for shoes that are designed specifically for their wide feet.
“A lot of women with wide feet can’t find dress shoes that fit so they buy bigger shoes that really aren’t that attractive,” McInally said.
“Wide feet is hereditary,” she said. “But a lot of people, until they become our regular customers, tend to shy away from stores that deal exclusively with wide shoe sizes and they buy larger shoes that are not really good for their feet.”
She said most conventional shoe stores carry wide and extra-wide shoes but usually they have less selection.
The average price for a wide-sized woman’s dress shoe is $69.95, she said. The latest style trend for dress shoes is patent leather.
Sizes for women range from Size 5 to 13D, which is listed as “wide”, WW 2E, “extra-wide” and XXW, which is “extra, extra-wide.”
Men’s sizes are from Size 6 to 18 and include 3E “wide” to 6E, the “widest.” Besides dress shoes, Otherwides Shoes sells casual shoes, sandals, boots, work and athletic shoes. Customers’ feet are measured using a Brannock measuring device, a long-used and traditional tool in shoe stores over the years which gauges the foot’s width, length and length of the arch. “Most shoe stores don’t measure your feet,” McInally said. McInally said she eventually plans to open another store in the East Valley.