There are a lot of reasons to visit Asheville, North Carolina. As the largest city in Western NC, it’s probably most fondly known for its rich art scene, eclectic restaurants, Art Deco buildings, natural beauty – and of course – shopping. When Tops For Shoes opened its doors back in 1952, downtown Asheville was not exactly the “hub” that it is today. The Resnikoff Family opened Tops as a general store with only a small shoe section. Overtime, the family decided to focus on shoes and today Tops is Western North Carolina’s largest full-service shoe store – and for good reason. Still a family-owned and run business, customers receive a shoe shopping experience to remember. Tops has also been an instrumental partner in revving up the downtown scene in Asheville over the last many decades. The store itself has grown immensely over the years and is now a 35,000 square foot store with over 100,000 styles to choose from. The definition of a “destination” shoe shopping experience.
Third generation owner Alex Carr prides his shoe selection on sizes and widths, as well as lots of options – from practical to trendy. Great shoes, perfect sizing – all coupled with amazing personal service that you only get from a store that’s been servicing locals and tourists for over 60 years. Earth Shoes are proud to be a part of such an amazing story. You can find Earth, Earthies and Kalso Earth Shoes gracing the shelves and tables of Tops.
A few folks from the Earth Sales and Marketing teams recently visited Tops. The Carr family are always gracious hosts and fun company. While there, Bob Carr took us on a historical walking tour of downtown Asheville where we got a deeper look into the cities culture and amenities beyond the unique galleries and charming boutiques. The only downside of our trip was that it wasn’t long enough. We saw and ate just enough to know we ALL plan on coming back to Asheville for a much longer trip in our near future. A Special thanks to the Carr Family for making our jobs so fulfilling and fun.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Megan Sajdak, the Director of Marketing from Stan’s Fit For Your Feet in Milwaukee to get a glimpse into her life at Stan’s in Milwaukee!
What makes Milwaukee such a special city?
Megan: Milwaukee is an amazing city rich with culture, music, an outstanding culinary scene, adventurous and scenic outdoor activities, and humans who are proud of their home! There is a great trend for the Buy Local retail movement and the continuation of development in the city, not only in retail but also in infrastructure.
How did you get into the Shoe Industry?
Megan: I am the third generation in our family business, Stan’s Fit For Your Feet. Stan is my grandfather and shoes have always been in my blood. As I continue to develop my career within the Shoe Industry, the people I meet, the excitement of new technology and fashion, and seeing it evolve over the years, constantly amazes me.
Wisconsin is famous for cheese and beer, but is there a hidden gem that we may not know about?
Megan: Wisconsin is way beyond cheese and beer. Yes I am a fan of both, but the hidden gem of Milwaukee is the culinary scene with many farm-to-table restaurants that use local ingredients. The development and trend of local businesses goes beyond the dinner plate, including local stores, boutique, etc. There is truly a dedicated, determined work ethic here in Milwaukee.
Do you have a favorite spot in town?
Megan: There are so many great dining spots in Milwaukee! A few of my local favorites are Rocket Baby Bakery on North Avenue – the bread is out of this world and their pastries are exceptional! For lunch, St. Paul’s Fish Market’s at the Public Market in the Third Ward District has the best Lobster Roll. It’s better than any Lobster Roll that I’ve had on the East Coast. For dinner, Movida for Spanish Tapas is one of my favorites! The Sangria is outstanding! And for a very classy dinner I would recommend any of the Bartalotta Restaurants – quality food, quality dining, and a local family business!
One of the most beautiful walks is Lake Park, there are gorgeous bridges, greenery and lush bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan. If you go a little south, you will see the beautiful Villa Terrace, a mansion with a robust garden. Another more wilderness hike is at Schlitz Audubon in Bay Side. Schlitz Audubon is an educational nature center and preserve with great paths, beach front and a lookout tower!
How would you describe Stan’s Fit for your Feet to someone who has never been there before?
Megan: Stan’s is a locally owned and operated sit and fit shoe store with fashions from all over the world. We do not compromise fashion for comfort. Our Fit Specialists or Certified Pedorthists will be ready to serve you with one-on-one service. We have a digital foot scanner as well; to show the pressure points in your feet and to better fit you. We shop the world for the best footwear and bring it to Milwaukee to fulfill your fashion, comfort and lifestyles needs.
What is your philosophy towards work?
Megan: I work to live and I love what I do. It’s about making a friend, which is what Stan, my grandpa always used to say. Yes, we need to run a healthy business to stay in business but for me it’s more important to impact someone’s life in a great way. Fitting someone with a pair of shoes can literally change a life, the way someone walks, the comfort of their body on the job, the comfort of their feet while they are doing a physical activity, etc. We see our impact everyday helping someone out at our stores. A pair of shoes or accessory is an investment and there is a lot of competition out there so if someone decides to work with us, I feel like my job is accomplished.
We truly see the impact of giving and changing a life with our Share-A-Pair shoe drive, where we collect new or gently used shoes and donate them locally to Repairers of the Breach or Father Gene’s HELP Center. We also donate to Soles4Souls, a national non-profit. This is truly partnering with our community and customers to help individuals in our backyard, getting them back on their feet. A pair of shoes can allow individuals in need to go to a job interview, church, or have protection from mother nature’s elements.
How do your customers feel about Earth Brand Shoes?
Megan: Our customers love the Earth brand! Not only is the brand ageless and understandable, the product is comfortable and fashionable. We have a loyal customer-base who has latched onto the Earth brand and have become loyal Earth customers!
What’s your favorite style for this season?
Megan: My favorite style for Spring is that white is back! I am loving the light floral of the Earth Tangelo. It’s feminine, yet understandable. I can’t wait to wear mine once the weather gets warmer!
What is it about Stan’s that your customers love?
Megan: From a survey we asked a couple months ago, I am confident to say that overall customers love our selection of quality styles and brands, our knowledgeable and helpful staff, and great sized and widths to accommodate all different size feet.
Maryland, one of the smallest states in the country, packs a diverse punch. Bordering our nation’s capital, Maryland offers a trove of history with landmarks like Fort McHenry, the Babe Ruth House, Mount Vernon and it’s even the birthplace of our national anthem. The mountains in the west provide a great skiing destination in the winter and awesome white water rafting adventures in the summer. On the shores on the East Coast, the once sleepy fishing town of Ocean City is now a family vacation hot spot. We visited our friends at Vernon Powell Shoe store, just west from Ocean City to experience Maryland and the quaint town of Salisbury.
Family owned and operated, Vernon Powell was established in Salisbury, MD 80 years ago. VP offers a wide selection of athletic, casual, comfort and dress footwear, along with beautiful accessories, jewelry, adorable children’s items and a lovely selection of gifts, but it’s not about the product’s offered at Vernon Powell, it’s about the people! The staff prides themselves in customer service, and building lasting relationships. It’s an effort that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the consumer. Shoe shopping is so much more than finding a stylish pair and Ann, a Pedorthist who has been with Vernon Powell for 17 years, knows the importance of finding the right shoe fit. Ann, along with 3 other Pedorthist’s on staff, have studied anatomy, biomechanics and realignment, ensuring you walk out of Vernon Powell with the perfect shoes for any foot, joint or lower limb ailment. The staff at Vernon Powell knows you won’t walk away disappointed. They take time and make sure your needs are met and will send you off with a smile and a dinner recommendation!
When you’re finished shipping at Vernon Powell, there is plenty to do in Salisbury and the surrounding areas. Fratelli’s Italian restaurant whips up an authentic Maryland crabcake, one of the best by local standards, winning best crab cake in Salisbury 10 years in a row! The nearby island of Assateague is a whimsical beach where wild horses roam. It’s safe to visit, camp and swim, just don’t feed the ponies! In Ocean City, Trasher’s Frech Fries and Dumser’s Ice Cream are a staple for any visitor. And of course, you can’t leave Maryland without a fresh squeezed Orange Crush found at bars like Brew River Dock Bar, Seacrets, Fager’s Island or Harborside Bar & Grill.
Sometimes in life the universe is on your side and through a lot of hard work and a little luck, things will fall into place beautifully.
That’s what happened when we ventured to the north and south points of the Massachusetts coast to shoot our Fall 2016 collection. We started out the week in Cape Cod. Every Bostonian’s favorite summer haven was relaxed and quiet during the off season, but it’s charm was still present. We then ventured up to the quaint town of Rockport on the North Shore. The rocky shoreline and picturesque town was an ideal location. Our incomparable team, including world class photographer Sara Forrest came together to tell a story of our Earth and Earthies girl. Sara is photographer and director who specializes in visual lifestyle projects. She has this laid back quality about her, but don’t be fooled by her cool demeanor, Sara’s ability to take charge and direct is inspiring. She has a clear vision of what she want’s, knows how to achieve it, but is always conscious of whats necessary for the Earth Brand. Our team included fashion stylist, Lauren Divolio & Janine Maggiore, hair and makeup artists, Mariolga Pantazopoulos & Kacie Corbelle, Videographer’s, Meg Elkinton & Shane Godfrey, Assistants Leonard Mazzone, Dan Orlow & Andrew Umbrianna, Creative lead, Darrin Bult, Assistant Art Director, Sara Bamber, Production Assistant Christina DeVaughn and our fearless leader, Earth Brands Marketing Direction Katie Dobbs.