It's not just the big department stores who are engaged in a race to exponentially expand their shoe departments. Local stalwart Harry's Shoes recently completed tripling its size in an economy where most independent stores are simply trying to keep their businesses from shrinking. The 81-year-old retailer was given a rare opportunity to grow its floor space without moving to a new location when next-door neighbor Talbot's, which as a company is facing its own challenges, shrank the size of its Upper West Side store, leaving an empty space just waiting for Harry's to annex.
Regular customers will be relieved to know that Harry's has not taken the opportunity to turn itself into a sleek, designer shoe salon. It's still the neighborhood store where our regular salesperson will know your name The new Harry's feels pretty much like the old Harry's, just a bit less cluttered and better lit. Two long couches sit opposite each other at the center of the store, giving the place a more genteel atmosphere, but as always, the focus is on the shoes which still fill the tables and shelves to capacity. While the store is known for practical, comfortable brands like Ecco, Merrell and Mephisto, it is not entirely devoid of fashionable lines. You won't find anyone fighting over the last Louboutin, but Stuart Weitzman, Donald J. Pliner and Fratelli Rossetti get some prime space now, and the store is known for importing lines like Arche from Europe that offer comfort with a bit more style. Still, it is a store that caters to people who need to be able to walk in their shoes, and the merchandise reflects that. The men's side benefits from renewed fashion interest in more traditional men's styles, so brands line the American made Allen Edmonds shine in particular, but the store also offers a dose of quirk with Florsheim by Duckie Broown, Red Wing and Wolverine mixed in among the Tevas and Hush Puppies. Harry's has pulled exactly what anyone could hope fro from a major renovation and expansion like this. It's exactly the store you have come to know and probably love, just better.
Harry's Shoes 2299 Broadway at 83rd Street, Upper West Side
Local Triumph: Longtime Indie Retailer Harry's Shoes Expands Threefold On The West Side