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Full-Service Footwear debuts Kent Central Gateway
Downtown Kent is about to add something it has not seen in years.
Starting this weekend, Kent Central Gateway Footwear, a full-service store devoted to footwear of the lifestyle, comfort and casual genre is going to open on East Erie Street in the Kent Central Gateway, the retail portion of PARTA's multi-transportation center that includes the four-story parking deck.
The store is directly across from the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center.
Co-owned and operated by Tim Nightengale, the owner of Wild Earth Outfitters just down the street, Kent Central Gateway Footwear is opens for business. The store, Nightengale said, will be open seven days a week, "just like Wild Earth Outfitters."
A grand open house was scheduled for Saturday, June 6th, a catered affair held in conjunction with PARTA.
Devoted almost exclusively to footwear and its accessories, Kent Center Gateway Footwear occupies 1,800 sq. ft. with easy access and high visibility thanks to its frontage of large windows.
It will feature brands well established with those looking for comfort and casual and its wearers will be making a lifestyle statement.
Brands include: Dansko, Doc Martens, NAOT, Blundstone, Toms, Buks, Minnetonka, Born and Sebago. Except for two brands, Merrill and Keen Footwear, which are carried at Wild Earth Outfitters, there will be no duplication.
One of the brands called Dansko Professional is extremely popular in the nursing profession for people who must be on their feet for long hours.
According to Nightengale, his staff is, "well trained to fit shoes correctly."
Prices he said will range from $65 on up to a high of approximately $200.
Whereas the shoes at Wild Earth Outfitters target those shopping for outdoor and hiking wear, Kent Central Gateway Footwear has the broader application of everyday wear with a focus on comfort for both on the job and off. Most of his brands, he said, carry the podiatric seal of approval, the professional endorsement of Podiatric Medicine.
Accessories include socks, shoetrees, and totes for inclement weather, belts that match the shoes, and hats and scarfs.
Hours are Monday, 11a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 .m. until 9 p.m., Sundays, noon to 5.
The store space is part of a master lease held by the Burdick Companies and comfortably decorated in collaboration with Burdick, who has lent family heirlooms to enhance the store's surroundings. Burdick said he has wanted to bring a shoe store into the downtown because surveys indicate it is one of the major needs of downtown shoppers.
"Our survey indicated it is in the top three of customer wants," he said. In persuading Nightengale to open a footwear store, he said he found a person, "who knows the business having been in it for 25 years."
Nightengale added that many of the customers at Wild Earth Outfitters, "are world travelers and Kent Central Gateway Footwear is a continuation of that attitude with the look and design of KCG footwear."
Nightengale said his goal with the staff is "to make customers feel at home." He said he wants customers who frequent both Wild Earth Outfitters and Kent Central Gateway Footwear to experience a staff that is trained to help them.
"We treat our customers like we would personal friends. Out staff is trained to behave in a consultant, problem-solving manner so that those buy at our stores actually have their needs answered," he said.
Wild Earth Outfitters, a 4-Year Success
Wild Earth Outfitters, having opened nearly four years ago, has been successful because of its consultancy approach and its quality brands, according to storeowner, Tim Nightengale.
"Out staff is well trained to listen to the customers and then solve their needs with the appropriate choice of clothing, footwear, or outdoor gear," Nightengale said.
"We want out customers to sense we are helping them," he said.
Brands stocked are well known to those who are looking for apparel that works for out of doors lovers. They include Prana Sportswear, Toad 'n Co., Royal Robbins, Patagonia, North Face, Columbia, Teva footwear and Oboz, a well-known maker of hiking footwear.
Wild Earth Outfitters occupies 2,800 sq. ft. just down East Erie Street from Kent Central Gateway Footwear and is close enough that the staff can transfer from one to the other depending on customer traffic.
"All of us will are knowledgeable in the products of both stores and we know how to fit people correctly, Nightengale said.
Store hours will be the same: Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon until 5 p.m.