Feet First opened in 1975 after a quest to find the perfect pair of clogs revealed a niche in Rhode Island that needed to be filled. Now more than 40 years later, Feet First is still offering the of kind footwear expertise you can’t get from big box stores. Owner Ken Richmond took the time to talk with us about spring trends, and finding the right shoe for working on your feet all day.
What is the history behind Feet First?
Feet First opened the first store in 1975, but our story really started way before that. My brother Gerald, his girlfriend Amy and I had started a small gift store and at Christmas time we would offer slippers. We had a few styles of moccasins and then requests from customers began to come in for a wider choice of footwear. Around this time my girlfriend, and later my wife, Patricia had really wanted a pair of wooden bottom clogs and we searched all over Rhode Island for some, to no avail. Finally we located a pair of Krone clogs from Denmark in Boston. Realizing that she couldn’t be the only woman in the state to want a pair of clogs, we decided to search out the importer. Around the fall of 1974 we had established a successful relationship with Krone and began offering clogs at the store. Lo and behold the clog search led us to realize that southern Rhode Island was in need of a quality shoe store, and thus Feet First was born.
How has the industry changed over the years you’ve been in business?
Manufacturing has all but vanished from the United States to overseas production. The production process has become much more automated and efficient and so the quality of footwear has improved due to these advances in production. We feel that being a full service, sit and fit store with a highly skilled fitting staff separates us from poorly trained big box retailers and online vendors.
What do trained shoe fitters bring to the experience?
Our professional staff is often aware of special fitting needs of our regular customers. We offer the opportunity for our customers to finally experience a proper fitting shoe. And many, after years of wearing something with an improper fit, have been able to see the difference the personal touch can make and they have become not only loyal customers, but ambassadors for Feet First, recommending us to family and friends far and wide. It is our customer satisfaction that has kept Feet First successful for the last 42 years.
Tell us what kind of orthotic and comfort options you carry for those on their feet all day.
Nothing can ever beat a properly fitted pair of shoes and our professional staff understands what it takes to assure proper fit. That is in part the reason Feet First carries a plethora of orthotic devices. We have proper inserts to accommodate long arches, short arches, high arches or low arches. This is the reason a certified professional shoe fitter can accommodate a wide array of foot types. It is also the reason there is no one perfect shoe for everyone. For those customers who are on their feet all day, our staff takes the time to understand what it entails to assure proper fit and all day comfort. We have helped many customers over the years get back on their feet and active again after years of suffering foot ailments.
What kind of styles are popular for spring?
With spring arriving everyone will want to lighten up with open toe and athletic shoes. This spring you can find some new styles from comfort brands like OluKai, Birkenstock, OOfos, Naot, Dansko, Vionic and for those seeking a more fashion forward looks we offer options like Wanda Panda.
Sandals will be the main focus of spring with primary colors becoming really prominent. With athletics it’s lighter and brighter. Time to let the colorful warmth of spring shoe options lead us away from the cool, dark grey of winter.
153 Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield • 783-8074
5600 Post Road, East Greenwich • 885-0606